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^trsg gotcs on ^ptahiug anb ^jpfcUing 






Paedagoguli abite pestes, 
Istinc ferte pedem invenusti incptl, 
Invisi pueris bonis malisque, 
Abite in mi scram crucem execrati 
Saacli perniciesque litterarum." 


{See Pre/ace.) 



Introductory 1 

The matter in hand, no trifle 5 

Examples; American debasements 6 

Chatterton's imposture 7 

Detection of St. Peter by his speech 8 

Omitting the "u" in words ending in " our" ... 10 

"Neighbour" 11 

"Control" 13 

"Tenor" and "tenour" 13 

Phonetic spelling 14 

"Ent"and "ant" 18 

" In-" or " en-" in compound words 19 

" Ecstasy " and " apostasy " 20 

"Lay" and "lie" 20 

The apostrophe of the genitive singular .... 21 

What is the apostrophe ? 24 

Plurals of compound names 26 

"Attorneys" and "moneys" • 28 

"Means" 28 

"News" 29 

" Mewses " 80 

"Summons" > . 81 

" Diocess " or " diocese " 33 

Division of a word between linea ..... 33 

"To" and "too" 85 

Doubling the final letter ....... 86 



"Benefitted" 86 

"Lose" and "loose" 87 

"Sanitary" and "sanatory" 37 

"Pharaoh" 3S 

Mia-spelling in newspapers 38 

" Ize " or " ise " 89 

"Show" and "shew" 40 

Pronunciation — misuse of the aspirate .... 40 

"A" or "an" before a vowel 46 

" Such an one " 48 

" Only one hen in Venice " 49 

"Idear,"iSi:c 49 

Calling "u" "00" 50 

"Heritor," "curator" 51 

"Manifold" 52 

"Prophecy" 63 

"Alms,"&c M 

"Cowper" 54 

"Cucumber" 55 

Mispronunciation of Scripture names .... 56 

Examples 57 

" Johnny Stittle " 58 

Samaria and Philadelphia 60 

"Urbane" 62 

"Junias" 62 

"Covetous" 63 

"TheKevelation" 63 

"Able" for "Abel," Ac 63 

Criticism in a newspaper 64 

Serious accompaniments of Ignorance in this matter . 66 

Usage and construction 67 

Idiom ^ 

Idiomatic mode of address "^O 

Elliptical usages "^1 

Caprice of idiom "^2 

"Methinks" "^3 

Example from the Greek 74 

INDEX, vii 


Spoken and written English 74 

" Those kind of things " 75 

"Attraction" 76 

"This "and "that" 77 

" To-day," " to-night " 78 

Triple meaning of " that " 79 

" This much," " that much " 80 

"That ill" 82 

"Ever so" or "never so" 82 

"What was," "what was not" 84 

" No " and " yes " the same 84 

"Oldest inmate" . . 85 

"Lesser" '85 

"Replace" 87 

"Enclosure" 87 

"Who "and "which" 90 

Use of "but" 92 

"As" and "so" . 93 

" Had rather " 94 

Colloquial contractions 95 

Feminine substantives 96 

Punctuation 98 

Comma between two adjectives 99 

Too few commas 100 

Notes of admiration 101 

"Centre" 101 

"By-and-by" 103 

"Endeavour ourselves" 104 

" To be mistaken " K)5 

"Good looking" or "well looking" 106 

"Latter," of more than two; "last," of only two . . 106 

" Superior," " inferior " 108 

"Talented" 109 

"Gifted" 109 

"To leave," absolute 109 

"Could not get" 110 

"Does not belong" Ill 

viii IXDEX. 


To " belong Leeds," «fcc Ill 

"To progress" 112 

Passage from Milton 113 

Nouns made into verbs 115 

"Totreatof,"or "to treat"? 116 

Fallacy: — of two ways of expression one must be wrong. 117 

"The Book Genesis," "the City London"' .... 117 

"Eeverend" and "reverent" 119 

Subjective and objective words 119 

"Or" and "nor" in a negative sentence .... 120 

Elliptical sentences 122 

General rule in such cases 128 

Arrangement of words in sentences 123 

Ordinary rule 124 

Emphasis requires violation of the rule .... 124 

in the case of clauses 126 

Parenthesis, in the case of words 128 

Examples 131 

from Scripture 133 

Grammar of our authorised version 134 

ofShakspeare 1-35 

Best way of proceeding in regard of such rules . . . 136 

Eeal ambiguity 136 

Note after a tithe dinner 138 

Clerical advertisement 138 

Criticism of Fechter's " Hamlet " 139 

The same term in different cases 140 

Position of adverbs : " only " 141 

"both" 144 

" The three first gospels " 145 

Confused use of "he" and " it" 148 

Does " than " govern an accusative case ? . . . . 152 

Two ways of constructing "than" 152 

"It is me" 154 

Dr. Latham's opinion 155 

"It is him.~ "it is her" 158 

" You and I." accusative 159 

INDEX. ix 


" As thee " ICO 

Use of "of" 161 

Prepositions at the end of sentences 102 

Present, past, and perfect tenses 1C4 

Their confusion 1 0<> 

" Was being written " 1G7 

" Shall" and " will " ICS 

"I will" 169 

"I shall" no 

"You will" 171 

"You shall" ITl 

Exceptions 1"2 

""Will" and "shall " in the third person .... 1T2 

Instances of almost indiflferent u^age 173 

Ambiguity 174 

"It would seem," "it should seem" 176 

Confusion of " shall " and " will " 176 

Dr. Latham's account of this • 17T 

A case in which it seems to fail 173 

Use of superfluous particles — " doubt but that " . . 179 

"Onto" • . ISO 

Defence of above 180 

"On to" and "into" 181 

" Holding on to " ISl 

"On" and "upon" 182 

To " open up " 183 

"At best," "at the best" 135 

"All of them," "both of them" 186 

"Fifty cubits high," &c 187 

Adverb between " to " and the infinitive .... 188 

"Going" and "coming" 188 

"Come to grief" 1S9 

Other uses of " go " and " come " 190 

Misuse of " whom " 191 

"Different to" 193 

" In respect (or, regard) of," etc 194 

" Inversely as " 195 



"Contrast to," or "with"? 196 

Meaning of " a term " 196 

Eeason for mentioning these objections .... 196 

" I need not have troubled myself"' 196 

Caution respecting past and perfect tenses .... 197 

Use of the present to signify fixed design .... 198 

Sentences wrongly supposed elliptic 199 

Caution against rash and positive assertions about construc- 
tion 199 

"Construct" and "construe" 200 

"Above" 201 

Adjectives used as adverbs 202 

Two uses of adverbial qualifications 203 

Subjective and objective 204 

" Looking sadly," &c 205 

" It would read oddly " 206 

Usage in comparative and superlative clauses . . . 206 

" A decided weak point " 208 

Anomalies 209 

" Long " and " short " 209 

"Just now" . . • 210 

Subjunctive and indicative moofls in conditional sen- 
tences 211 

The general rule 211 

stated by Dr. Latham .... 211 

Ignorance of this rule 212 

This rule perhaps unknown to our older writers . . 212 

Bias formerly to the subjunctive 214 

but now more to the indicative 214 

Phenomenon to be observed 215 

Verb after " that " without an auxiliary .... 215 

Singulars and plurals 216 

" Twice one are two " 218 

Cases not understood 218 

Account of these usages 220 

Use of certain conjunctional particles 221 

Violation of this rule 221 

INDEX. xi 


Use of "except" for "unlesa" 222 

"Without" 222 

"A mutual friend" 223 

"We will write you" 224 

" A nd which " 225 

" One," joined to " his " 226 

"Didn't use," "hadn't used," &c 22S 

"Riding" or "driving" 230 

"I take it" 230 

"The earth's revolving" 231 

"Predicate" for "predict" 233 

"If" for "whether" 233 

" Seldom or never " 234 

" Like I do " 234 

Nouns of number 234 

" People " and " persons " 235 

"I know nothing by myself" explained .... 236 

"The three 'poys' just mentioned" .... 237 

" Religion in the arm-chair " 238 

" The right man in the right place " 239 

" His wrong slippers " 239 

Ambiguous descriptions of men 239 

" By applying " 240 

" Wants cutting " 241 

Deterioration of the language itself 241 

Sources of our language 242 

Process of degeneration : whence mainly arising . . . 244 

in what consisting . . . 245 

Dialect of our journals 245 

A "party" 246 

Technical sense of " party " 247 

"Proceed" 248 

"Partake" 248 

"Locality" 248 

"Apartments" 248 

"Evince" 24S 

"Commence" ... = ..,.,. 2i9 

xii INDEX. 


"Eventuate" 250 

"Avocation"' 250 

" Persuasion " 251 

"To sustain" 251 

" To experience " 252 

"To accord" 252 

"To entail" 252 

"Desirability" 253 

"Displenishing" 253 

"Keliable" 253 

"Allude" 253 

Examples of the deterioration 253 

A monster balloon 256 

"So fully proved, than...'' • 256 

Excuse of hasty -writing 257 

"Wonderful capacity of a -windmill 25S 

Ghosts summoned by advertisement .... 259 

Powers of a night--watchman 259 

Inflated language in prayers 260 

Nicknames and expressions of endearment .... 261 

Talking nonsense to children 263 

Sir J M and the tired nurse 264 

Extract from the Leedn Mercury 265 

Use of expletives 272 

"Weil," "why" 274 

"At all" 275 

" And the like " 277 

Unmeaning exclamations 277 

Concluding advice 278 

Conclusion 251 

Notes . o • . ■ 288 



The fact, that an edition consisting of an 
unusually large , number of copies of this little 
work has been exhausted in a few months, shews 
that the Public are not indifferent to the interest 
of the subject. The course of the controversy 
which it has excited has at all events shewn one 
thing: that its publication was not un-needed. 
And though, in the course of this controversy, I 
have received some hard hits, I have no reason to 
complain, seeing that it has continually furnished 
me, as it has gone on, with fresh material for new 
remarks, and ampler justification for those which I 
had already made. 

A charge has been brought against me, to which 
I feel bound to reply. One of my censors has 
alleged that the concluding sentence in paragraph 
89 has been altered, so as to convey a sense offen- 

liv PREFA CE. 

sive to him, since its delivery in his hearing at 

This allegation is incorrect. That sentence now 
stands verhatim as he heard it delivered here : and 
let me add, bears no such offensive sense as he 

A mistake occurred in the title-page of the first 
edition, owing to my absence from England. The 
title ought to have stood, as will be seen by the 
first paragraph in that edition, "A Plea for the 
Queen's English," and now that title has been 

I mention this here, because that accidental 
circumstance has been supposed by one of my 
censors to conceal I know not what deep purpose, 
and has been dignified with the name of "the 
tactics of my opponent." 

The motto at the back of the title-page has been 
borrowed from a little work by Signor Pagliardini, 
entitled " Essays on the Analogy of Languages." 
It expresses, in a jocular form, what every one 
who values our native tongue in its purity must 
feel : that most of the grammars, and rules, and 
applications of rules, now so commonly made for 
our language, are in reality not contributions 
towards its purity, but main instruments of its 
deterioration. These rules are often laid down by 


persons ignorant of the analogy of languages, of 
the laws of thought, and of the practice of those 
writers whose works are the great fountain-heads 
of our English usage. Difficile est . . . non scrihere^ 
when we see men whose knowledge does not ex- 
tend to the most ordinary facts of derivation, and 
requirements of speech, exalted into authorities 
whereby to judge of the correctness of Shak- 
speare, and Milton, and theEnglish version of the 
Bible. We may not indeed say, Malim cum Pla- 
tone errare : but we may say confidently, that the 
old writer had in his mind some reason for his mode 
of expression, which was far above the grasp of his 
modern critic. 

I am happy to have been, in the course of my 
writing these "stray notes," made acquainted with 
some modem English Grammars which form ex- 
ceptions to the description just given : Grammars 
based upon essential facts and principles which are 
utterly unknown to , the '"'' pmdagoguW'' of Count 
d'Arco's epigram. 

I may mention among these. Dr. Latham's 
sensible English Grammar, and " An English 
Grammar specially intended for Classical Schools 
and Private Students," by Edward Higginson: 
Longmans, 1864. 

It now only remains for me to express my thanks 

xvi PREFA GE. 

to ray many Correspondents, for their valuable 
contributions, enquiries, hints, and corrections : to 
ray Censors, both gentle and ungentle, for their 
teaching by exaraple and by precept : and to the 
Public in general, for the kind interest which they 
have shewn in these stray notes on speaking and 


October 28, 1864. 



1. I have called these "stray notes" " A tory? ^°* 
Plea for the Queen's English." 

2. I must begin by explaining what I mean 
by the term. It is one rather famihar and 
conventional, than strictly accurate. The 
Queen (God bless her !) is of course no more 
the proprietor of the English language than 
any one of us. Nor does she, nor do the 
Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled, 
possess one particle of right to make or un- 
make a word in the language. But we use 
the phrase, the Queen's English, in another 
sense ; one not without example in some 
similar phrases. AVe speak of the Queen's 
Highway^ not meaning that Her Majesty is 
possessed of that portion of road, but that it is 
a high road of the land, as distinguished from 
by-roads and private roads: open to all of 


common right, and the general property of 
our country. And so it is with the Queen's 
English. It is, so to speak, this land*s great 
highway of thought and speech ; and seeing 
that the Sovereign in this realm is the person 
round whom all our common interests gather, 
the source of our civil duties and centre of 
our civil rights, the Queeii's English is not an 
unmeaning phrase, but one which may serve 
to teach us some profitable lessons with regard 
to our language, and its use and abuse. 

3. I called our common English tongue the 
highway of thought and speech ; and it may 
not be amiss to carry on this similitude further. 
The Queen's highway, now so broad and 
smooth, was once a mere track over an unen- 
closed country. It was levelled, hardened, 
widened, by very slow degi-ees. Of all this 
trouble, the passer-by sees no trace now. He 
bowls along it with ease in a vehicle, which 
a few centuries ago would have been broken 
to pieces in a deep rut, or would have come 
to grief in a bottomless swamp. There were 
no Croydon baskets, in the day when Henry 
II. and his train came to do penance from 
Southampton up that narrow, hollow, rough 
pilgrims' road, leading over Harbledown Hill 
to Canterbury. 


4. Now just so is it with our English lan- 
guage — our Queen's English. There Avas a 
day when it was as rough as the primitive 
inhabitants. Centuries have laboured at level- 
ling, hardening, widening it. For language 
wants all these processes, as well as roads do. 
In order to become a good highway for thought 
and speech, it must not have great prominent 
awkward points, over which the mind and the 
tongue may stumble ; its words must not be 
too weak to carry the weight of our thoughts, 
nor its limiting rules too narrow to admit of 
their extension. And it is by processes of 
this kind in the course of centuries, that our 
English tongue has been ever adapted more 
and more to our continually increasing wants. 
It has never been found too rough, too unsub- 
stantial, too limited, for the requirements of 
English thought. It has become for us, in 
our days, a level, firm, broad highway, over 
which all thought and all speech can travel 
smoothly and safely. Along it the lawyer and 
the parliamentary agent propel their heavy 
waggons, clogged with a thousand pieces of 
cumbrous antiquated machinery, — and no 
wonder, when they charge freightage, not by 
the weight of the load, combined with the 
distance, but by: the number of impediments 


which they can manage to oifer to the pro- 
gress of their vehicle. Along it the poet 
and novelist drive their airy tandems, de- 
pendent for their success on the dust which 
thev raise, and throuffh which their varnished 
equipages glitter. On the same road divines, 
licensed and unlicensed, ply once a week or 
more, with omnibus or carrier's cart, pro- 
mising to carry their passengers into another 
land than that over which the road itself ex- 
tends, just as the coaches out of London used 
to astonish our boyish eyes by the " Havre de 
Grace'''' and '"''Paris'''' inscribed on them. And 
along this same Queen's highway plods ever 
the great busy crowd of foot-pass?ngers — the 
talkers of the market, of society, of the family. 
\Yords, words, words ; good and bad, loud and 
soft, long and short ; millions in the hour, 
innumerable in the day, unimaginable in the 
year : what then in the life ? what in the his- 
tory of a nation ? what in that of the world ? 
And not one of these is ever forgotten. There 
is a book where they are all set down. What 
a history, it has been well said, is this earth's 
atmosphere, seeing that all words spoken, 
from Adam's first till now, are still vibrating 
on its sensitive and unrestins: medium. 

5. But it is not so much of the great high- 


way itself of Queen's English that I would 
now speak, as of some of the laws and usages 
of the road ; the by-rules, so to speak, which 
hang up framed at the various stations, that 
all may read them. 

6. I have called the contents of these pages 
" Stray notes on speaking and spelling." The 
thinors of which I have to treat are for the 
most part insulated and unconnected ; so that 
I fear there will not be even the appearance 
of connection between the various parts of my 
volume. And again, it must be confessed 
that they are not of a very interesting kind. 
I shall have to speak of such dull things as 
parts of speech, and numbers, and genders; 
the obscuration, or the conventional and 
licensed violation, of rules of grammar, and 
the pronunciation and spelling of words. 

7. It will be necessary perhaps to state that 7\^ matter 

'/ i- i- in hand no 

the things of which I am going to speak are '^"'^'^• 
not to be looked upon as altogether of a trifling 
character. One of my critics, of whom I shall 
have more to say further on, thinks it ludicrous 
and absurd that a dignitary of the Church 
of England should meddle with such small 
matters. But the language of a people is no 
trifle. The national mind is reflected in the 
national speech. If the way in which men 


Examples : 


express their tliouglits is slipshod and mean, 
it will be very difficult for their thoughts 
themselves to escape being the same. If it is 
high-flown and bombastic, a character for 
national simplicity and truthfulness, we may 
be sure, cannot be long maintained. That 
nation must be (and it has ever been so in 
history) not far from rapid decline, and from 
being degraded from its former glory. Every 
important feature in a people's language is 
reflected in its character and history. 

8. Look, to take one familiar example, 
at the process of deterioration which our 
Queen's Engflish has underofone at the hands 
of the Americans. Look at those phrases 
which so amuse us in their speech and books ; 
at their reckless exaggeration, and contempt 
for congruity ; and then compare the char- 
acter and history of the nation — its blunted 
sense of moral oblifjation and dutv to man ; 
its open disregard of conventional right where 
aggrandizement is to be obtained ; and, I may 
now say, its reckless and fruitless maintenance 
of the most cruel and unprincipled war in the 
history of the world. Such examples as this 
(and they are as many as the number of the 
nations and their tongues) may serve to show 
that language is no trifle. 


9. Then, aofain, carefulness about minute Chatterton'a 

^ imiK>sture. 

accuracies of inflexion and grammar may 
appear to some very contemptible. But it 
would be just as easy to give examples in 
refutation of this idea. Two strike me, of 
widely different kinds. Some years ago a set 
of poems was published at Bristol, purporting 
to have been written in very early times by 
a poet named Rowley. Literary controversy 
ran high about them ; many persons believed 
in their genuineness; some do even now. 
But the imposture, which was not easy to 
detect at the time, has been now completely 
unmasked by the aid of a little word of three 
letters. The writer uses " its " as the posses- 
sive case of the pronoun "it" of the neuter 
gender. Now this possessive " its " was never 
used in the early periods of our language; 
nor, indeed, as late down as Elizabeth. It 
never occurs in the English version of the 
Bible, made in its present authorized form in 
the reign of James I.* " his " or " her " being 

* We have it in one place in our present copies, viz., 
Levit. XXV. 5 : " That which groweth of its own 
accord." But this has been an alteration by the 
printers : King James's authorized copies have " of it 
own aceord :" just as Shakspeare wrote (see notice of 
the Cambridge Shakspeare in the "Times" of Sept. 
29, 1863) "The innocent milk in it most innocent 
mouth :" and " go to it grandam, child, and it gran dam 


always used instead. " They came unto the 
iron gate that leadeth unto the city ; which 
opened to them of his own accord" (Acts 
xii. 10). "Of beaten work made he the 
candlestick; Ms shaft, and his branch, his 
bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the 
same" (Ex. xxxvii. 17). "The tree of life, 
which yielded her fruit every month" (Rev. 
xxii. 2). It is said also only to occur three 
times in Shakspeare, and once in " Paradise 
Lost." The reason, I suppose, being, that 
possession, indicated by the possessive case 
" z75," seemed to imply a certain life or person- 
ality, which things neuter could hardly be 
thouo-ht of as havinof. 
Detection of 10. The Other example is one familiar to 
bis speech, you, of a more solemn character. When St. 
Peter was stoutly denying all knowledge of 
his suffering Master, they that stood by said 
to him, " Surely thou art one of them ; for 
thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth 
thereto." So that the fact of a provincial 
pronunciation was made use of to bring about 
the repentance of an erring apostle. 

11. This little book will be found to justify 

will give it a plum." The usage of "ii" for "i7s," 
is still found in the provincial talk of the Midland and 
Northern counties. (See on this subject Dr. Latham's 
*' History of the English Language," pp. 527-9, 589.) 


the description on its title, wliich represents it 
as consisting of " Stray notes." These were 
written down durino; the intervals of more 
serious employment, to serve as matter for 
lectures to the " Church of England Young- 
Men's Literary Association" at Canterbury. 
Having performed that duty, they were pub- 
lished in the widely circulated periodical 
entitled "Good Words; " and now, in a con- 
siderably altered form, they are presented to 
the public. 

12. As the lectures were given, and the ar- 
ticles were published, considerable controversy 
sprang up respecting many points which were 
noticed in them. Correspondence became 
very abundant, and full of amusement and 
interest, and the second and third essays 
assumed somethinof of a controversial cha- 
racter. On collecting them, however, into a 
volume, I found it desirable to omit very 
much that referred to matters in dispute ; 
and in this second edition, I have carried this 
omission further, and struck out or modified 
most of the notices which pointed at indi- 
vidual antagonists. 

13. The few allusions to matters of contro- 
versy which have been still retained, are those 
which seemed necessary, as immediately con- 



cerning the subjects under treatment. While 
striking out all that was merely vindicative of 
myself in refutation of an opponent, I have 
been unwilling to part with arguments which, 
though contributing to that end also, yet were 
chiefly auxiliary to the main objects which I 
had in view. 
Omittinff 14. The first remark that I have to make 

the "u"in , ,, , ^ • ^ • t 

v/ordsin shall DC ou the trick now so universal across 
the Atlantic, and becoming in some quarters 
common among us in England, of leaving 
out the "?^" in the termination "-owry" 
writing honoi% favor., neighbor, Savior., ko,. 
Now the objection to this is, not that it 
makes very ugly words, totally unlike any- 
thing in the English language before (for we 
do thus spell some of the words thus derived, 
for example, author, governor., emperor, &c.), 
but that it is part of a movement to reduce 
our spelling to uniform rule as opposed to 
usage, and to help forward the obliteration 
of all trace of the derivation and history of 
words. It is true that honor and favor are 
derived originally from Latin words spelt 
exactly the same; but it is also true that 
we did not get them direct from the Latin, 
but through the French forms, which ended 
in "-ewr." Sometimes words come through 


as many as three steps before they reach 
us — 

" 'Twas Greek at first , that Greek was Latin made : 
That Latin, French ; that French to English straid." 

15. The late Archdeacon Hare, in an article 
on English Orthography in the " Philological 
Museum," some years ago, expressed a hope 
that " such abominations as honor and favor 
would henceforth be confined to the cards of 
the great vulgar." There we still see them, 
and in books printed in America; and while 
we are quite contented to leave our fashion- 
able friends in such company, I hope we may 
none of us be tempted to join it.* 

16. We have spoken of these words in "neigh- 
"oi^r" as mostly having come to us from the 
Latin in '''■or.^'' throuo-h the French in '"'■ eur^^ 

It has been observed, that this is not the case 
with some words involved in the " or " and 

* Much has been made of the fact of some of these 
transatlantic spellings being found in the last edition 
of my own poems . But, as will be seen on referring to 
the advertisement to that edition, the main part of the 
printer's work was done in America, and my own spell- 
ing was altered there. The occurrence of " favored " 
and " odors " in one of the last poems in the volume, 
is owing to that, with some other pieces, having formed 
part of an imperfect sheet in the American edition, and 
having been, in making up the additional sheets in the 
English volume, reprinted without correction. 


" our " question. One of these is " neiffhbour" 
This has come from the German " nachbar;^'* 
and it is therefore urged, that an exception 
should be made in its case to the ending with 
our, and it should be -written " neighbory I 
am afraid the answer must be, that English 
custom has ruled the practice another way, 
and has decided the matter for us. AVe do 
not follow rule in spelling the other w^ords, but 
custom. We write senator, orator, governor, 
in spite of the French senateur, orateur, gou- 
verneur. If we once begin reforming our 
spelling on rule, we ought to be consistent, 
and to carry our principles throughout. It is 
only the maintenance of our national custom 
and usage for which a reasonable man can 
plead. AVe have no Academy to settle such 
things for us ; and as long as neighbour is 
universally spelt in England with a " w," I fear 
we must be content to conform, even though 
it appear to have been first so spelt by those 

* It appears that the derivation of neighbour ft-om 
the German nachbar is questioned. I have had a let- 
ter from a Danish correspondent, who charges me with 
error in stating this as its derivation, and believes it 
to come from the Danish or rather Norse, naho., com- 
pounded from the words 7Hey\ near, and5of, to live or 
dwell. I observe, moreover, that the dictionaries 
derive it from tlie Anglo-Saxon " nehegbur :" in which 
case the u has more right in the word than the o. 


who forgot its derivation. It is when custom 
is various, and some rule is needed to decide 
which variety is right, that I have advocated 
the appUcation of rules in order to that 

17. In the case of another word thus "control." 
variously spelt, control^ the rule is plain, and 
general usage conforms to it. Control never 
acquired any right to be spelt with a " uy It 
comes from the French controle, i. e., contre- 

role : and the oriijinal meaninof is still found in 
the name Controller^ when applied to finance : 
/. f., an officer whose duty it is to keep a 
counter-roll, or check on the accounts of 
others. It seems also clear, from this ac- 
count of the word, that it ought not to be 
spelt convpt^ as it frequently is, but cont. 

18. With regard to one word of the class "tenor" 

and " te- 

under consideration, tenor^ it has been alleged nom-." 
that it bears different senses, according as we 
spell it with or without u in the last syllable : 
tenour signifying the character, or complexion, 
or drift of a course of action or speaking ; and 
tenor signifying the part in music. But I can 
find no such distinction observed, either by 
writers, or by the compilers of our diction- 
aries. Some dictionaries give tenor for both, 
some tenowr; and with regard to usage, the 


distinction attempted to be set up is certainly 
not observ^ed. Sir Philip Sidney, Shakspeare, 
Dryden, Pope, "Waterland, Locke, all use 
tenor in the sense of the constant mode, or 
manner of continuitij, as may be seen in the 
dictionaries. The distinction is observed in 
French, but never appears to hav^e been made 
a point of in English : and the word thus re- 
mains in the same predicament as the rest of 
those in this class — subject to be varied this 
way or that, according to prevailing usage. 
Phonetic 19. When I published my first paper in 


" Good AYords," I wrote to this effect :— " The 
omission of the ' zi ' is an approach to that 
wretched attempt to destroy all the historic 
interest of our language, which is known by 
the name of 2^honetic spelling; concerning 
which we became rather alarmed some years 
ago, when we used to see on our reading-room 
tables a journal published by the advocates of 
this change, called the ' Phonetic News,' but 
from its way of spelling looking like Frantic 
N'uts. The whole thing has now, I believe, 
disappeared, and gone into the limbo of abor- 
tive schemes ; the knacker's yard of used-up 
hobbies." This sentence o-ave o-reat offence 
to the supporters of the so-called spelling- 
reform. I had imagined that their endeavour 


to substitute irrational for rational spelling 
had entirely failed, and died away ; and I ex- 
pressed myself accordingly. It appears that 
it is still going on, and that the " Phonetic 
Journal," its organ, has attained a circulation 
of 1,000 : no very large figure certainly, con- 
sidering the number of years during which 
the movement has existed. I have stated 
the fact, as I was requested to do : but I 
cannot change my opinion either as to the 
character or as to the prospects of the 
movement. Its character may be in some 
measure illustrated by the view which its 
promoters seem to take of the facts of ety- 
mology. Enclosed in a letter of remonstrance 
to me was a copy of a reprint by them of 
Dean Swift's burlesque, in which he face- 
tiously proves that the Greek and Latin 
tongues were derived from the English, 
making out that Andromache Avas Andrew 
Maclcay^ and the like. Here is a rich speci- 
men. " Alexander the Great was very fond 
of eggs roasted in hot ashes. As soon as his 
cooks heard he was come to dinner or supper, 
they called aloud to their under-officers, ''All 
eggs under the grate^ which, repeated every 
day at noon and evening, made strangers 
think it was that prince's real name, and they 


therefore gave him no other : and posterity has 
been ever since under the same delusion." 

20. Now it is one thinij to write or to en- 
joy a joke, and another to use it with a view 
to an ulterior purpose. It is natural that 
these who are obliterating the traces of the 
historical formation of the language, should 
endeavour to cast ridicule on etymologists ; 
but it is not easy to say why they should 
have republished Swift's squib, if, as they 
profess, their system tends to 2^r€S€rve the his- 
tory of the language, and not to eflface it. 

21. And as to the future, I cannot bring 
myself to believe that the system will ever 
prevail generally among English writers. It is 
a good thing to devise every means by which 
a short-hand writer, — whose object is to note 
down with all speed what he hears, — may be 
enabled to abridge his work. Let it by all 
means set at nought conventional spelling, 
and use what symbols he finds most conve- 
nient for the sounds expressed by combined 
letters. But our object is not expeditious 
writing only, nor is it easy spelling, nor uni- 
formity in expressing the same sounds. "\Ye 
use, in writing, an instrument which has 
been adapted to our use by nearly sixty cen- 
turies ; whicTi bears on it the marks of many 


a conflict of tliought and belief; whose very 
uncertainties and anomalies are records of our 
intercourse with other nations, and of the 
agglomeration of our mingled English people. 
You may gain, with no great trouble, unifor- 
mity of spelling, and of pronunciation accord- 
ing to spelling ; but you will do it at the 
sacrifice of far more than the gain is worth. 
A smooth front of stucco may be a comely 
thing for those that like it; but very few 
sensible men will like it, if they know that, 
in laying it on, we are proposing to obliterate 
the roughnesses, and mixture of styles, and 
traces of architectural transition, from the 
venerable front of an ancient cathedral. I 
have fulfilled my promise to my phonetic cor- 
respondent, and announced that my former 
statement was not correct. I can only say I 
am sorry for it, and express a hope that it 
may not be long before the result then antici- 
pated is fully accomplished. 

22. In a letter received from another pho- 
netic correspondent, I learn that there is divi- 
sion in the camp. The gentleman who is by 
his own followers characterized as the apos- 
tle of the movement, is by the other party 
regarded as the principal hindrance to its 
progress. So that the end may not be far 


oflf after all. I also leam from this later cor- 
respondent, that it is only the short-hand 
department of the phonetic movement which 
can at all be described as beino: in a flourish- 
ing state ; and to that I wish all prosperity, 
provided always that it rises on the rains of 
the other. 
"-ent"and 23. Here is another instance, in which our 

"-ant." _, . 

acknowledged English custom in spelling 
seems to defy all rule. How does it stand 
with the words ending in -ent and -ant, 
derived from the participles of Latin verbs? 
Some of these follow rule, others depart from 
it. The first conjugation of Latin verbs, 
forming its participle in -ans, genitive -untis 
gives rise to a set of derivatives in our lan- 
guage which keep constant to the termination 
-ant. We have abundant, reluctant, exuberant, 
remonstrant, recusant, recalcitrant, and the rest. 
But in the case of the second, third, and 
fourth Latin conjugations, forming their par- 
ticiples in -ens, genitive -entis, we have not 
been able to keep the derivatives steady to 
the original type. Li the greater number of 
cases, they follow it : in some, usage varies ; 
in a few, they have rejected the primitive 
form, and have adopted the -ent. We always 
vfviiQ different 3X1^. difference; indeed the deri- 


vative differential seems to fix these forms on 
us, as transcendental fixes transcendent. De- 
pendent and dependant seem to be written . in- 
difterently. But defendant and attendant are 
universal. In some cases, the rules of pronun- 
ciation have kept the -ent unvaried. Take for 
instance the derivatives from Latin verbs end- 
ing in -C5C0, — crescent^ quiescent^ acquiescence, 
arborescent : and such words as detergent, emer- 
gency. In all these, the substitution of a for 
e would change the soft sound of the pre- 
ceding consonant into a hard one : we should 
be obliged to say cresohant, deter^ant, &c. 

23a. The question, in- or en-, in words 
beginning with the preposition variously thus 
represented in Latin and French, seems ut- 
terly to defy any answer according to rule. 
" Engrave," " enrich," " engross," " enrol," are 
universal ; but so are " infant," " intent," " in- 
flame:" while we have both " enquire " and 
" inquire," both " enclose " and " inclose," 
both " endorse " and " indorse," used indiff'er- 
ently. We have also " insurance " and " as- 
surance " indifferently used ; and the liberty 
of choice in this case is owino; to the fact 
that we may use both verbs, to assure and to 
insure, of that kind of making safe, which 

the substantive represents. 

c 2 


"ecstasy" 24. There seems to be considerable doubt 

and "apos- . i t • i i n i 

tasy." m the public mind how to spell the two words 

ecstasy and apostasy. The former of these 
especially is a puzzle to our compositors and 
journalists. Is it to be extasy^ extacy, ecstacy, 
or ecstasy ? The question is at once decided 
for us by the Greek root of the word. This 
is ecstasis {ey.ffra<nq)^ a standing, or position, 
out of, or beside, one's-self. The same is the 
case with apostasy. The root of this is apo- 
stasis (d-6(7~a(jtq), a standing off or away from 
a man's former position. Consequently, ec- 
stasy (or, if we prefer it, cxtasy) and apos- 
tasy, are right, not those forms which end in 

"lay'' and 25. Lay and lie seem not yet to be settled. 

Few things are more absurd than the confu- 
sion of these two words. To "Zay" is a verb 
active transitive: a hen lays eggs. To "/ie" 
is a verb neuter ; a sluggard lies in bed. 
Whenever the verb lay occurs, something 
must be supplied after it ; the proper re- 
joinder to " Sir, there it lays," would be 
" lays what /" The reason of the confusion 
has been, that the past tense of the neuter 
verb "Zee" is "/ay," looking very like part 
of the active verb : — " I lay in bed this morn- 
ing." But till?, again, is perverted into laid^ 


which belongs to the other verb. I have ob- 
served that Eton men, for some reason or 
other, are especially liable to confuse these 
two verbs. 

26. There seems to be some doubt occa- The apostro- 

phe of the 

sionally felt about the apostrophe which marks genitive 


the genitive case singular. One not uncom- 
monly sees outside an inn, that "^^y'i-" and 
*^ ffiff^s" are to be let. In a country town 
blessed with more than one railway, I have 
seen an omnibus with " Railway Station's " 
painted in emblazonry on its side. 

27. It is curious, that at one time this used 
to be, among literary men, the usual way of 
writing the plurals of certain nouns. In the 
" Spectator," as a correspondent reminds me, 
Addison writes '■'' PurcelVs opera's''^ with an 
apostrophe before the "s". And we find 
" the making of grotto's " mentioned as a 
favourite employment of ladies in that day. 

28. Occasionally this apostrophe before the 
" s " in plurals is adopted to avoid an awk- 
ward incongruous appearance : as in another 
instance from the " Spectator " given by my 
correspondent, where Addison speaks of the 
way in which some people use " their loho'^s 
and their whiches." Certainly " whos " would 
be an awkward-looking word, and so would 


" wkoes" It would seem as if we were com- 
pelled to admit the intruder in tbese cases : 
for without him, how should we ever be able 
to express in writing that people drop their 
A'5, or omit to dot their i^s and cross their fs? 
But if we do, we must carefully bar the gate 
again, and refuse to tolerate his presence in 
any plurals where he is not absolutely re- 

29. I have observed, on the part of our 
advertising post-horse-keepers, a strange re- 
luctance to give the proper plural of ^y, used 
to denote a vehicle. Where we do not see 
j^y'5, we commonly find "^y^" instead, and 
very rarely indeed "^/es," the obvious and 
only legitimate plural : the reason apparently 
being, that there is a fear of a ludicrous 
meaning being suggested by the word. But 
if we do not think of the insect when we see 
"^y" in the singular, why should the plural 
form necessarily raise the thought in our 
minds ? 

29a. A correspondent raises the question, 
whether the name of the carriao^e be not 
really derived from the verb, seeing that 
certain night-coaches were once called "^y- 
hy-night " ? And if so, why, he asks, should 
it be required to follow the rule of the sub- 


stantive ? But we may answer, was not that 
substantive itself also, in its time, derived 
from the verb? It is not merely the analogy 
of this particular substantive, but that of the 
language, to which we would bind the new 

30. A dispute was referred to me by the 
compositors of a certain journal, as to whether 
we ought to write Messrs. Jacksons works with 
the apostrophe before the final "5" in Jack- 
sons, or after it : in other words — for it comes 
to the same — whether, in speaking of the 
firm, we ought to say Messrs. Jackson, or 
Messrs. Jacksons. It seems to me that, by 
using the plural appellative Messieurs, we - 
have already adojDted the former of these. 
Each member of the firm is Mr. Jackson : we 
may regard the whole firm, if we will, as 
made up of Mr.-Jacksons. But in speaking 
of the firm a?; a whole, we use the other form, 
and say the Messrs. Jackson. It is plain that 
we have no right to mix both forms together, 
and to say the Messrs. Jacksons, with both 
names in the plural. So that, the practice of 
the commercial world havino; bound us to 
speak of the Messrs. Jackson, — when we speak 
of Messrs. Jacksons vjorks, the apostrophe or 
sign of the genitive case ought to come before 


the final 5 (Messrs. Jackson's works), and not 
after it (Messrs. Jacksons' works). The ex- 
ample by which the other side in the dispute 
defended their view, was ingeniously chosen, 
but did not apply. They urged that in wri- 
ting " nine months imjorisonment^^'' the apos- 
trophe is put, not before, but after, the final s 
in months. Certainly : because we cannot say, 
and never do say, nine month : whereas we can 
and do always say, Messrs. Jackson. 
Wh&t\3 the 31. We are led on by our last paragraph to 

apostrophe? i • i i • i 

say something about this same apostrophe 
itself.* First, what is it? what does it mean? 
When I speak of" the Senator'''^ in one sentence, 
and of " the Senator's son''* in another, what 
has happened to the word Senator in becom- 
ing Senator'' Sy with the apostrophe? The 
question was at one time answered by saying 
that " the Senator''s son" was an abbreviation of 
" the Senator, his son.''^ And we may remem- 
ber that the prayer for all conditions of men 
in our Common Prayer book ends with the 
words "/or Jesus Christ his sake.^"* But more 
attention showed that this was an erroneous 
view of the matter. It failed to account for 
all feminine genitives: '■'•your rv if eh father''* 
cannot be '•'-your wife his father ; " and for all 
* See note A, end of the volume. 



plural genitives : the children's bread cannot 
be " the children his breads More attention 
shewed that the s preceded by the apostrophe 
is an abbreviation of the added syllable "-w," 
marking the possessive or genitive case. 
Thus " the Senator's son " in Eno-lish answers 
to Senatoris Jilius in Latin. 

32. But if the Senatoris son, with an apos- 
trophe between the r and 5, signifies the son of 
the Senator, how am I to express in a similar 
form the sons of the Senator's ? in other words, 
what becomes of the apostrophe when we want 
to make a possessive case in the plural ? We 
have no inflexion, as in Senatorum flii, by 
which it can be expressed. Can w^e use the 
final -is to mark the possessive in the plural 
as we do in the singular ? It would seem to 
a Latin scholar absurd so to do ; yet we do it. 
We have already cited the children's bread. 
But most of our plural nouns already end in s ; 
and to them we do not superadd another s with 
the apostrophe, but indicate its omission by 
simply putting the apostrophe after the plural 
noun. We say " the senators' sons ; " " the 
senators' sons' wives: " " the senators' sons' wives' 
jewels." I mention this, not to inform any 
one of so well known a practice, but because it 
gives rise to a few cases in which there is some 


diflSculty. The reason of the usage may be, 
that we may avoid the occurrence of the two 
sibilant letters together. This seems likely, 
because we extend it to other words ending 
in s, or in a sound like 5, though they may 
not be plural. Thus we say, "for thy good- 
ness' sake," meaning, for the sake of thy good- 
ness : in which case the word " goodness " 
ought plainly to be written with the apos- 
trophe after it. Thus, too, we should say 
"for patience' sake," meaning, for the sake of 
patience ; and again, we ought to put the 
apostrophe after " patience." 

33. But we are not consistent in this. If we 
were speaking of a person named Patience, we 
should say, " Patience's father is here " : and 
we form the possessive cases of James, and 
Thomas, and Charles, not by the mere apos- 
trophe, but by the apostrophe with the s. 
"Thomas is Charles's son: James is Thomas's 
son ; therefore Charles is James's grandfiither." 
Again, we say and write Bass's Ale, not Bass' 
Ale : Chambers's Journal, not Chambers' 
Plurals of 34. Very nearly related to the last question 

compound . , , " . ^ . . , 

iiauies. IS the following. \Yhich of these two is right, 
— the Misses Brown, or the Miss Browns^ 
For the former it may be said, that Brown is 


the name of the whole species, and that the 
young ladies, being individuals of that species, 
are Misses ; for the latter, that each of the 
young ladies being Miss-Brown, the whole 
taken together, or any two or more, are Miss- 
Browns. So that either way is justifiable. 
TJsaofe is all but universal in favour of the 
latter iu conversation. AYe may say w^e met 
the Miss Browns, not the Misses Brown. But 
we can hardly justify this our colloquial prac- 
tice, if we bring in Mrs. Brown, and say we 
met Mrs. and the Miss Browns, For, by 
enumerating thus first the individual, and 
then the species, we bind ourselves to the 
former way of spelling. The sentence, as I 
have last given it, is inaccurate ; because it 
really says that we met Mrs., and the Miss, 
Browns; i.e., one Mrs. and one celebrated 
Miss, rejoicing in the name of, not Brown, 
but Browns. If we had wished to keep to 
the ordinary colloquial usage in this case also, 
we ought to have said that we met Mrs. 
Brown and the Miss Browns. 

35. A correspondent writes : — " We some- 
times hear people speak of calves'' -head. I 
have seen it written so on bills of fare, mean- 
ing a dish made of the head of a calf. The 
same people would in all probability say * two 



neys " and 
•* monevs.*' 

calves' headn^ meaning two dishes, each of 
which is called ''calfs-head.'' I should prefer 
to say ' two calfs-heads.'' This is not men- 
tioned in any work on Enorlish Grammar." 

35<7. A correspondent asksj'tffe^tfeef of these 
two is right, ^^ spoonfuls^'' or " spoojisfulL^^ 
The answer seems very obvious. If spoonful 
is to be regarded as one word, as I suppose it 
is, then spoonfuls is its plural. " The earth 
brought forth by handfuls" (Gen. xli. 47). 
But if we keep the compounding syllables 
separate, a spoon full, then we ought of course 
to say two spoons full, and so on. 

36. There seems to be a liability to error 
in the formation of some plurals themselves. 
The words '* attorney " and " money " are often 
made into '■'■ attornies'''' and '■^monies'''' in the 
plural. This is of course wrong : we might 
as well turn the singular " key " into a plural 
" kiesy I am not aware that any one ever 
wrote " monkies " or " donkies " for " monkeys " 
or " donkeys.''' And this is not a case of rule 
aorainst usacre : for all our better and more 
careful writers use the right plurals, viz., 
" attorneys^'* and " moneys.'''' 

37. A question arises as to the proper con- 
struction of certain nouns bearing the plural 
form. The first which I shall notice is " means J' ^ 


"Those pieces of hypocrisy were, with him, 
means to an end." "That piece of hypocrisy 
was with him, a" — what ? — a mean to an end ? 
No, — this is not English, though it may be cor- 
rect in grammatical construction. " That piece 
of hypocrisy was, with him, a means to an 
end." This is how we speak. And we say, 
"the best means of accomplishing your end es," 
if we are going to speak of one mode of action 
only ; not " the best mean is," nor " the best 
means are,''"' unless we mean to enumerate 
more than one. 

38. Very similar is our way of dealing with "news." 
^^ newsy If we are about to mention one fact 
only, we say the latest news " is," not " areT 
In this case indeed the use of the plural verb 
at all is unusual, even if several things are to 
be mentioned. If we pick one out of several, 
we sometimes say, " The latest piece of news 
is." "Here lies the remains of," has been 
justified, on the ground that " remains " is 
equivalent to " remainder," there being no 
such singular noun as " a remain^ But the 
defence is unquestionably wrong. The word 
" remains'''' is, and is intended to be, plural, in 
signification, as well as in form. The human 
body is broken up by death, and is no longer 
regarded as a whole, but as a heap of decom- 


posing parts. And the same idea is present 
in speaking of any thing which has passed 
into decay or dismemberment : we speak com- 
monly of the rums of a church or castle, 
though in this case we may say that it has 
become "a ruin:'''' we have " les restes," 
" triimmer," " rudera," " tpeiTria,''^ all plurals, 
"mewses"' 39. There is another word which I was not 
aware had become one of this class, till I 
perceived on the London walls an undoubted 
proof that it had. I mean " mews." I should 
have been inclined to say, " South Portman 
Mews are on the left as you go up Orchard 
Street." But clearly this is not the way 
of speaking which is most intelligible to the 
coachmen and grooms of London. For at the 
entrance of every one of the Marylebone mews 
(I am using my own plural), I see a notice 
posted for the regulation of the " meioses " of 
the metropolis.* Besides the incongruity of 
its poetic associations, this word " mewses " is 
a very queer monster. Fancy ordering " two 
Daily Newses," by way of two copies of the 

*In my article printed in " Good Words" for Novem- 
ber, 1863, 1 had supposed this form of the notice to be 
current throughout London, and had ascribed it to Sir 
Richard Mayne. I received the folloAving letter from 
Dr. Thomson, the medical officer of health for Maryl-:- 


"Daily News." Still, we must allow the 
Marylcbone parish authorities this much in- 
dulgence, as to confess that their word is not 
altogether without precedent. With regard 
to summons, which appears to be another of "sum- 

^ ^ . . mons." 

these plural words become singular, and in 
the usage of which we have long ago become 
accustomed to read that " summonses were 
served on all the offenders," a barrister has 
suggested to me that it is in fact derived 

bone, which enables me to correct my former state- 
ment : — 

"Department of Medical Officer of Health. 
" Court House^ St. JIarylebone, W. 
*' November 5, 1H63. 

" Sir, — I observe that in your last interesting paper 
on the English language in ' Good Words,' you ascribe 
the use of the term Mewses to Sir Richard Mayne. In 
justice to him, allow me to state that the regulations to 
which you refer are only attached, so far as I am aware, 
to the Mews in the parish of St. Marylebone. They 
were drawn up by myself, and in my original copy of 
the draught they are styled Mews. In correcting the 
proofs, however, the legal authorities of the i)arish sub- 
stituted the term you object to, in defiance of the 
Queen' s English, but in direct obedience to the inexora- 
ble 35 Geo. 3, cap. 73, passed in 1795, wliere the term 
Mewses occurs throughout. 

"Very faithfully yours, 

" R. DcrNDAS Thomson, M.D., F.R.S. 
" Medical Officer of Uealth. 

"The Very Reverend the Dean of Canterbury." 


from the French " semonceP Probability is 
given to this idea, from the fact that the verb 
representing the serving of the legal procer 
is in English most commonly pronounced, not 
to " summon," but to " summons," as it na- 
turally would be, if from the French verb 
^'^ semoncery In Landais' large French dic- 
tionary, the meanings are thus given : — 

Semonce, subst. fem. (du latin submonitio, 
fait de 8uhmonere, avertir secretement, a demi- 
mot), invitation faite dans les formes pour 
quelque ceremonie. — Avertissement fait par 
quelqu'un qui a autorite. — Reprimande. 

Semoncer, v. act., faire une semonce : donner 
un av^ertissement. 

So that, at all events, the proposed deri- 
vation is not far-fetched ; for the significa- 
tion exactly corresponds. The only " missing 
link" is, the historical proof, from the old 
French of our courts, that '■'■semonce'''' and 
*' semoncer " were actually used in them, 
and from French passed into English. This, 
which I am not able to give, some of my 
legal correspondents may perhaps supply. I 
observe that Todd, in his edition of Johnson, 
derives summons from the formal Latin name 
of the writ, " summoncasy But this does not 
seem so probable. 


40. Ought the district over which a bishop "diocess" 

° ^ or"dio- 

has ecclesiastical jurisdiction to be spelt cese." 
diocese, or diocess ? The latter form is found 
in a few of our older writers, and is by some 
persons retained in our own days. The 
" Times " newspaper seems pertinaciously to 
adhere to it. I have observed that, in letters 
inserted and extracts given, the spelling is even 
altered to this form. But there is really no 
justification for it. It seems to have come 
from the Norman-French diocisse ; but the 
derivation of the word, as well as the usage 
of the great majority of English writers, fixes 
the spelling the other way. The word is 
derived froin the Greek " dioikesis,^'' with the 
" eta " or long e in the last syllable but one ; 
and ought no more to be spelt diocess, than 
cheese ought to be spelt chess. 

41. The division of a word, when the for- Division of 

a word he- 
rn Cr portion has to be written m one line and tween lines. 

the latter in another, may seem but a trifling 
matter ; but it is one worth a few moments' 
attention. The ordinary rule is, that the 
break should be so made, as to let the new 
line begin with a consonant. And notice 
that this is not the same matter as divi- 
sion of the word into its component parts. 
This latter process must follow the order of 



derivation and inflexion of the word : but in 
division between line and line, we are obliged 
to transgress this order. For instance, in 
dividing the word attainted into its compo- 
nent parts, we say that at- is the first, taint- 
the second, and -ed the third : taint being the 
root of the word, and -ed the added sign of 
the past tense. But in dividing this word 
between two lines, we should put attain- in 
the former line^ and -ted in the latter. K 
any one is disposed to object to this way of 
dividing, and to require that we should in all 
cases follow the composition and inflexion of 
the word, and begin the new line with the -cd^ 
he may at once be shown the impossibility of 
doing so, by trying it in the case of any verb 
ending with e preceded by a mute and a 
liquid, as humble, or any which turns a final y 
into ie, as multijyly, in making its past tense. 
The word humbled is confessedly of two syl- 
lables : but if we are to divide on the rational 
plan, where is the break to occur ? It is true 
that, in this particular case, on no plan is the 
account to be given quite satisfactory. The 
pronunciation of the word in reading, making 
the e of ed mute, may be represented by 
" humbldy But this is not expressed by 
hum-bled, nor by humb-led, nor indeed by any 


mode of division that can be devised. The 
inference is, that we should, if possible, avoid 
dividing such a word at all. But in such 
words as multiplied^ though the rational divi- 
sion according to inflexion fails, the ordinary 
rule is easily followed : -plied, when the e is 
mute, becomes the last syllable, and the divi- 
sion is made accordingly. 

42. I have observed that Mr. Charles "to "and 


Dickens speaks in one of his works of 
" shuttinor too.'''* Xow it is true that "^o" 
and " too " are originally the same word ; in 
German, zu, expresses them both ; but it is 
also true that usage with us has appropriated 
" too " for the adverb of addition or excess, 
and " to " for the preposition ; and that in 
the expression " shutting /o," it is the prepo- 
sition, and not the adverb that is used; that 
to lohich the door is shut being omitted, and 
the preposition thus getting the adverbial 
sense of close or home. 

43, There seems to be a habit of express- DonbUn? 

, „ 11 1 • *he final 

mg any less usual sense of a monosyllabic letter. 
word by doubling the final letter. Thus I 
have sometimes seen "This house to lett.''^ 
And in one of the numerous mining circulars 
which are constantly swelling one's daily 
parcel of letters, I observe it stated, that the 



^^ sett^^ is very rich and promising. Thus, 
likewise, clear profit is sometimes described 
as " nettj'*'' instead of " net.^^ 

"bene- 44. This reminds us of another doubling 

fitted." . , . , T 

of a final letter, respectmg which there is con- 
siderable doubt. Does the verb to benefit, in 
forming its past participle, double its final 
letter? Is it true, as stated in the first edi- 
tion of this work, that this doubling only takes 
place in a syllable on which the accent is laid, 
and that the purpose of it is to ensure the 
right pronunciation ? At first sight it would 
seem so. If the participle of quit were spelt 
quited^ it would be pronounced as in requited^ 
and would lose the sound of its verb : whereas 
by spelling it quitted, that sound is retained. 
And so of fit, rebel, abhor, and other words of 
the same kind. When the syllable has no 
accent on it, the reduplication seems not to 
be needed, for there can be but one way 
of pronouncing it ; we might as well make 
the participle of remember^ rememherred, as 
that of benefit, benefitted. But the intelli- 
gent Irish correspondent, whom I quote at 
length on paragraph 225, observes justly that 
this view does not seem borne out in the 
case of cavilling, travelling, grovelling, and 
the like words. So that, after all, it seems 


as if usage were our only safe guide in the 

45. I have several times noticed, and once '^ lose "and 


in a letter censuring some of ray own views 
on the Queen's English, the verb to lose spelt 
loose. A more curious instance of the arbi- 
trary character of English usage as to spelling 
and pronunciation, could hardly be given, 
than these two words furnish : but usage 
must be obeyed. In this case it is not con- 
sistent with itself in either of the two 
practices : the syllable ^'■-oose " keeps the sound 
of " s " in loose, noose, goose, but changes it for 
that of " z " in choose : the syllable " -ose " 
keeps the sound of " s '' in close, dose, but 
changes it for that of " z " in chose, hose, nose, 
pose, rose. But when usage besides this 
requires us to give the " o " in lose the sound 
of " u " in luminary, we feel indeed that 
reasoning about spelling and pronunciation is 
almost at an end. 

46. SsLmtary and sanatory are but just "sanitary" 

. . . and " saiia- 

begmning to be rightly understood. Samtary, tory." 
from sanitas, Latin for soundness or health, 
means, appertaining to health ; sanatory, from 
sano, to cure, means appertaining to healing 
or curing. "The town is in such a bad 
sanitary condition, that some sanator}^ mea- 


sures must be undertaken." I was surprised 
to see, in the Illustrated Neivs of Oc- 
tober 31, 1863, a print and description of 
Murree, one of the " Sanitariums " for our 
troops in India. 

"Pharaoh." 47. I have noticed that the title of the 
ancient Egyptian kings hardly ever escapes 
mis-spelling. That title is PharaoA, not Pha- 
roah. Yet a leading article in the Times, not 
long since, was full of Pharoah, printed, as 
proper names in leading articles are, in con- 
spicuous capitals. Nay, even worse than this : 
on my first visit to the South Kensington 
Museum, an institution admirably calculated 
to teach the people, I found a conspicuous 
notice with the same mis-spelling in it. I 
gave a memorandum of it to the attendant ; 
but whether it has been corrected or not I 
cannot say. 

\[is-spelliiig 48. It is in newspapers, and especially in 

in news- • • i 

papers. provmcial newspapers, that most frequent 
faults in spelling are found. No doubt there 
is much to be said which may account for 
this. Sometimes their editors are men of 
education, aided by a very inefficient staff, 
and are at the mercy of their compositors and 
readers; sometimes thev are half-educated 
men, aspiring to the use of words which they 


do not understand. Examples might be 
gathered of the most absurd mis-spelling and 
misuse of words, from almost any copy of any 
provincial journal in the kingdom. In a country 
newspaper, not long since, I read that a jury 
might be " immersed " in a heavy fine ; the 
meaning being, of course, that they might be 
'■^ amerced. ''"' We were informed one day last 
year, in the Evening Star, London penny paper, 
that the Pope went to the " basilisk " of St. 
Peter's ; meaning " basilica,'''' the name given 
by the Romans to several of their largest 

49. How are we to decide between s and z »-ize"or 
in such words as anathematize, cauterize, criti- 
cise, deodorize, dogmatize, fraternise, and the 
rest ? Many of these are derived from Greek 
verbs ending in -izo ; but more from French 
verbs ending in -iser. It does not seem easy 
to come to a decision. Usage varies, but has 
not pronounced positively in any case. It 
seems more natural to write anathematize 
and cauterize with the z, but criticise is com- 
monly written with the s. I remember hearing 
the late Dr. Donaldson give his opinion that 
they ought all to be written with s. But in the 
present state of our English usage the ques- 
tion seems an open one. 



" shew.' 

tion — mis- 
use of the 

50. It is not easy to say how the verb cor- 
responding to the substantive show comes to 
be spelt shew. Here again we seem bound 
to follow usage, and not rashly to endeavour 
to reform it. 

51. I pass from spelling to pronunciation. 
And first and foremost, let me notice that 
worst of all faults, the leaving out of the as- 
pirate where it ought to be, and putting it in 
where it ought not to be. This is a vulgarism 
not confined to this or that province of Eng- 
land, nor especially prevalent in one county 
or another, but common throughout Eng- 
land to persons of low breeding and inferior 
education, principally to those among the 
inhabitants of towns. Nothing so surely 
stamps a man as below the mark in intel- 
ligence, self-respect, and energy, as this un- 
fortunate habit: in intelligence, because, if 
he were but moderately keen in perception, 
he would see how it marks him ; in self- 
respect and energy, because if he had these, 
he would long ago have set to work and 
cured it. Hundreds of stories arc current 
about the absurd consequences of this 
vulgarism. We remember in Punch the 
barber who, while operating on a gentleman, 
expresses his opinion, that, after all, the 


cholera was in the hair. "Then," observes 
the customer, " you ought to be very careful 
what brushes you use." " Oh, sir," replies 
the barber, laughing, " I didn't mean the air 
of the edy but the hair of the hatmosphereP 

52. As I write these lines, which I do while 
waiting in a refreshment-room at Reading, 
between a Great - Western and a South- 
Eastern train, I hear one of two commercial 
gentlemen, from a neighbouring table, telling 
his friend that " his ed used to hake ready to 

53. The following incident happened at the 
house of friends of my own. They had asked 
to dinner some acquaintances who were not 
perfect in their aspirates. When they made 
their appearance somewhat late, imagine the 
consternation of my relative, on receiving 
from the lady an apology, that she was very 
sorry they were after their time, but they had 
some ale by the way. The well-known 
infirmity suggested the charitable explana- 
tion, that it was a storm^ and not a tipple^ 
which had detained them. 

54. I had, shortly after the publication of 
my first paper in " Good Words," a very 
curious communication on the subject of the 
pronunciation of the aspirate. My correspon- 


dent objected, that tlie portion of my Essay 
■which treated of this matter conveyed no 
meaning to him, for that from a child he had 
never been able to tell the difference in pro- 
nmiciation between a word beo^inningr with 
an " A," and one beginning without : and he 
insisted that I ought to have adopted some 
method of making this plainer. He adds, 
" In all cases where the ' A ' is used, to me it 
appears superfluous." I adduce this without 
comment, to show how inveterate the habit 
of neglecting the aspirate must be : — even 
more so than I had ever imagined. 

55. Still, I have known cases where it has 
been thoroughly eradicated, at the cost, it is 
true, of considerable pains and dihgence. 
But there are certain words with regard to 
which the bad habit lingers in persons not 
otherwise liable to it. We still sometimes, 
even in good society, hear " os/JiVa/," "er6," 
and *' uriible^'' — all of them very offensive, 
but the last of them by far the worst, 
especially when heard from an officiating 
clergyman. The English Prayer-book has 
at once settled the pronunciation of this 
word for us, by causing us to give to God our 
" humble and hearty thanks" in the general 
thanksgiving. JJmhle and hearty few can 


pronounce without a pain in the throat: and 
" umblanartij " we certainly never were meant 
to say ; tumble and Aearty is the only pro- 
nunciation which will suit the alliterative 
style of the prayer, which has in it " not only 
with our lips^ but in our lives.'''' If it be urged 
that we have " an humble and contrite heart," 
I answer, so have we " the strength of an 
horse f but no one supposes that we were 
meant to say "a norsey The following are 
even more decisive : "holy and humble men 
of heart :" " thy humble servants," not " thine.^'' 
It is difficult to believe that this pronun- 
ciation can long survive the satire of Dickens 
in David Copperfield : " I am well aware 
that I am the umblest person going," said 
Uriah Heep, modestly, " let the other be who 
he may. My mother is likewise a very umble 
person. We live in a numble abode. Master 
Copperfield, but have much to be thankful 
for. My father's former calling w^as umble ; 
he was a sexton." 

56. As I might have expected, the remarks 
here made on the pronunciation of humble 
have given rise to much controversy. The 
unaspirated pronunciation has been stoutly 
defended : partly on the ground of being 
borrowed from the Italian, partly by the alle- 


gation that I have failed to prove from the 
Prayer-book the intention of the compilers of 
our Liturgy that the aspirate should be pro- 

57, It has been asserted by one correspon- 
dent that the alliteration in the words, 
" humble and hearty," is as perfect without 
the aspirate on the former word, as with it ; 
and I am told that the fact of the occurrence 
of '''' thy humble servants,''^ and ^^ thine un- 
worthy servants" decides nothing, because we 
have " thy honour and glory." But be it 
observ^ed, that in order to answer my argu- 
ment, an instance ought to have been pro- 
duced, not of a different unaspirated vowel 
with " thy " before it, but of the same un- 
aspirated vowel; because some vowels have 
in themselves sounds more or less nearly 
approaching to the power of a consonant, 
and therefore enduring '''■thy" and "a" be- 
fore them. The long "«" has this power; 
we may say " a unit" " a university" because 
the first syllable sounds as if it began with 
'''"you" and "y" has here the power of a 
consonant. But the short "m," as in ^'"hum- 
hie" is not one of those vowels which re- 
quire a consonant to enunciate them : one 
could not say " a unlearned man :" and I 


mast therefore still maintain that the occur- 
rence of " thy humhle^'' and " thine unworthy ^"^ 
shows that the " h " was meant to be aspi- 
rated in the former case, as we know it was 
not in the latter. 

58. Another correspondent brings what is 
apparently a more formidable objection against 
my conclusion from " thy humble " and " thine 
unworthy P "Were you," he says, "to find 
the words ' my umbrella ' in some standard 
work, would you 'at once exclaim, 'Oh, this 
writer calls it ' humbrella /' ' Here is an 
example of the short i^." My answer is 
very simple. Mine is now almost universally 
disused : and my has taken its place before 
vowels. The translators of the Bible wrote 
" mine eyes ;" but if I found " my eyes " in a 
modern book, I certainly should not charge 
the writer with aspirating the substantive. 
I must still maintain that, when the same 
persons, in the same book, wrote " thy hum- 
ble,''^ and " thine unworthy ^^'' they meant to 
indicate a difference, in respect of the aspirate, 
between the pronunciation of the two words 
thus differently preceded. 

59. Another correspondent, writing from 
Ireland, charges me with being in error for 
finding fault with those who drop the aspi- 


rate in the word " hospital,^^ " for," says he, 
" no one in Ireland^ so far as I am aware, 
ever thinks of aspirating the h in that word." 
This is certainly a curious reason why we 
should not aspirate it in England. It re- 
minds me of an American friend of ours, 
who, after spending two or three days with 
us, ventured to tell us candidly, that we all 
^^ spolce with a strong English accent^ The 
same correspondent states that he never met 
an Englishman who could pronounce the rela- 
tive pronoun "which" He charges us all 
with pronouncing it as if it were " witch." I 
may venture to inform him that it was his ear 
which was in fault. The ordinary English 
pronunciation " which " is as distinguishable 
from " witch" as it is from the coarse Irish 
and Scotch "ivh-ich." 
"A" or 60. What is our rule — or have we any — 

"an" be- . •' 

fore a vowel respecting the use of a or an before words be- 
ginning with an aspirated h ? The rule com- 
monly given is this : that when the accent 
on the word thus beofinninjx is on the first 
syllable, we must use a ; when it is on the 
second or any following syllable, we may use 
an. This is reasonable enough, because the first 
syllable, by losing its accent, also loses some 
portion of the strength of its aspiration. 


We cannot aspirate with the same strength 
the first syllables in the words history and 
historian, and in consequence, we commonly 
say a history ; but an historian. 

61. Still, though this may define our 
modern practice, it is rather a reasonable 
description of it, than a rule recognised by 
our best writers. They do not scruple to use 
an before aspirated words, even when the 
accent falls on the first syllable. In the 
course of an examination through the letter 
h in the Concordance, verified by the text in 
all passages which seemed doubtful, I have 
found in the English version of the Bible 
very few instances of the article a used before 
a word beginning with A. We have an half^ 
an hammer^ an hand, an high hand, an hand- 
inaid, an harp, an haven, an head^ an heap, an 
heart, an hedge, an helmet, an help, an herdsman, 
an heretic^ an heritage, an hill, an high hill, 
an hissing, an holy day, an holy man, an holy 
angel, an horn, an horrible thing (I may men- 
tion that Cruden has cited a horrible in every 
instance, but that in every instance it stands 
an, both in the edition of 1611 and in our 
present Bibles), an horse, an host, an house, 
an hundred, an husband, an hymn, an hypo- 
crite. The only exceptions which I have 


found are, a hill, Josh. xxiv. 33 : a holy 
sole?nniti/, Isa. xxx. 29. So that the surprise 
of a correspondent at Archbishop Trench'' 
having written an hero was hardly justified. I 
do not, of course, mean to say that the usage of 
the translators of the Bible should be our 
rule now : but in the absence of any general 
fixed rule, we can hardly find fault with 
writers who choose to follow a practice once 
so widely prevalent, and still kept before the 
public in the Book most read of all books, I 
must just remark, that the fact, that we are 
more particular about this matter than our 
ancestors were, seems to shew that, notwith- 
standing the very common vulgarism of 
dropping the aspirated h, the tendency of 
modern times has been rather to aspirate 
more, than less. 
Such an 62. A correspondent questions the pro- 

priety of the common use of " an " before 
" o)ie," in the phrase " suck an one.^^ I bring 
this forward not with any idea of deciding 
it, but because in my examination of the 
usage of our translators of the Bible, a 
curious circumstance has come to light. 
They uniformly used " such a o??^," the 
expression 'occurring about thirteen times. 
In the New Testament, the printers have 



altered it throughout to " such an one ;" in 
the old Testament, they have as uniformly- 
left it as it was. It seems to me that we 
may now, in writing, use either. In common 
talk, I should always naturally say ^^ such a 
one,^^ not ^^such an one,^^ which would sound 
formal and stilted. 

63. A student at one of our military aca- Only one 
demies had copied a drawing of a scene in Venice. 
Venice, and in copying the title, had spelt the 
name of the city Vennice. The drawing mas- 
ter put his pen through the superfluous letter, 
observing, " Don't you know, sir, there is but 

one hen in Venice ?" On which the youth 
burst out laughing. Being asked what he 
was laughing about, he replied he was think- 
ing hoio uncommonly scarce eggs must be 
there. The master, in wrath, reported him to 
the colonel in command, a Scotchman. He, on 
hearing the disrespectful reply, without in the 
least perceiving the point of the joke, observed, 
" An a varra naatural observaation too." 

64. A worse fault even than dropping the "idear," 


aspirate, is the sounding words ending with a, 
or aw^ as if they ended with ar. A corre- 
spondent, accustomed apparently to attend the 
Houses of Parliament, sends me a strong 
remonstrance against this practice. He says, 



" Woe betide any unfortunate member if he 
strews the floor with * aitches ;' the laughter 
is open and merciless : but honourable mem- 
bers may talk of the ' lawrr ' of the land, or 
^scawn the idear^ with perfect impunity. 
One of the greatest offenders in this matter is 
a well-known opposition speaker whom I shall 
not name. The startling way in which he 
brings out idear is enough to make the hair 
of any one but a well-seasoned Cockney stand 
on end." My correspondent goes on to say, 
^''Amelia Ann is a great stumbling-block to 
people with this failing, becoming of course 
in their mouths Amelia ran. I remember 
once seeincr a little elementary tract on 
French pronunciation, in which, opposite the 
French a, was placed ar, by way of indicating 
to British youth the pronunciation thereof. 
I showed the curiosity to several Londoners, 
but they could not be made to see the point 
of the joke." 
Calling "u" 65. There is a very offensive vulgarism, 
most common in the midland counties, but 
found more or less almost everywhere : giving 
what should be the sound of the u in certain 
words, as if it were oo : calling " duty^^ dooty ; 
" Tuesday,'''' Toosday ; reading to us that " the 
clouds drop down the doo ;'''' exhorting us 



'■^ dooly to do tlie dooties that are doo from 
us ;" asking to be allowed to see the " noos- 
'pa'perT And this is not from incapacity to 
utter the sound ; for though many of these 
people call " neio^'' noo, no one ever yet called 
'"''fexD^'' foo ; but it arises from defective edu 
cation, or from gross carelessness. 

66. A Scottish correspondent, speaking of "heritor"— 

5 "curator." 

some usages prevalent in the north, says : — 
" * Heritor,'' proprietor of landed property, is 
most commonly pronounced * eritor,^ which is 
manifestly inconsistent with '■heritage,^ '■here- 
ditary,^ &c., in which the aspiration is always 
given. In our Scotch courts of law, we hear 
of entries being made on the ' record,^ never 
record : but in other than law uses the word 
is always accented on the first syllable. This 
reminds me of another term in Scotch law — 
' Curator,^ pronounced curator, in violation, 
certainly, of the Latin analogy. It is told of 
a witty Scotch counsel, that when pleading 
before the House of Lords, and Avhen cor- 
rected by one of their lordships for his false 
quantity in the pronunciation of this word, 
he replied, with a profound bow, that he must / 

submit to the authority of so learned a sena- 
tor, and so eloquent an orator." 

66a. In one letter sent to me, fault is 

E 2 


found with the pronunciations " decanal,^'' 
" ruri-decanal,^'' ^^ opidtive,'''' on the ground 
that it is the genius of our language always 
to throw back the accent to the first syllable of 
a tri-syllabic word, as in " senator,'''' " orator" 
" minister.''^ In such a case custom is our 
only guide. It is not to be thought that, be- 
cause we say '■'"senator," ''orator" or ""minis- 
ter" we have any objection to tri-syllabic 
words with the accent on the pcnultima ; we 
have hundreds of them : witness " objector" 
^'"protector" "rejiector" "assertor" (kc. So 
that no rule can be laid down, except the 
" norma loquendi." 
"manifold." 67. A Correspondent asks for a comment 
on the pronunciation of the word " manifold." 
He thinks that we lose the idea of its original 
composition by calling it, as we generally do, 
'■'mannifold" and that it ought to be called 
" many-fold" as if it were two words. My 
reply would be, that the end proposed is a 
praiseworthy one, but I am afraid it will 
not justify the means used in attaining it — 
viz., the violation of common usage, which 
has stamped " mannifold " with its approval. 
It may be that the mispronunciation first ori- 
ginated in the apparent analogy with " mani- 
fest." I would remind him, that this is not 


the only word which suffers change of pro- 
nunciation when compounded. We call a 
"- vine-yard,^'' '■'' vinyard :''^ the man would be 
deservedly set down as a pedant who should 
do otherwise. We call a " cup-hoard'''' a " cuh- 
bard,''^ a " half-penny " a " haepny^'' and we 
similarly contract many other compound 
words. The great rule, I take it, in all such 
cases of conventional departure from the pro- 
nunciation of words as spelt, is to do nothing 
which can attract attention. We naturally 
think somewhat less favourably than we 
otherwise should of a person who says " vic- 
tu-al^'' when the rest of the world say 
" vittal ;" " med-i-cine,^'* when others say 
" ined^cine ;" " ve-ni-son,^^ where we thought 
we should hear " ven' sony We commonly 
expect that such a man will be strong-willed, 
and hard to deal with in ordinary life : and I 
think we are not often wrong. 

68. A correspondent complains of the stress "prophi-cy." 
laid on the final syllable of the substantative 
prophecy : and says, " What should we think 
of ecstasy, fallacy, phantasy, especially if put 
in the plural?" But in this case, usage is 
right, and apparent analogy wrong. Ecstasy, 
as we have already seen, is from the Greek 
ecstasis ; ^:>Aa7i^asy, from the Greek phantasia ; 


fallacy, from the Latin fallacia. But pro- 
phecy is from the Greek propheteia : and it is 
therefore not without reason that we lay the 
stress on the last syllable. The verb, to pro- 
phesy, we pronounce in the same way ; I sup- 
pose, by a double analogy : partly guided by 
the sound of the substantive, partly by that 
of the last syllable in other verbs ending in 
"y," to qualify, to amplify, to mystify, &c. 

"alms," &c. 69' Complaint has been made of the pro- 
nunciation of the words alms, psalms, calm, 
after the fashion of elm and film. No doubt 
the marked utterance of the " I " in these 
words would savour of affectation ; at the 
same time, there is a subdued sound of it 
which should be heard in " alms ;" even less 
audibly in '■'■ psalm, ^'' and hardly at all in 
" calm ;" usage, as learnt in society, being in 
this, as in other uncertain pronunciations, the 
only safe guide. 

"Cowpcr." 70. There are two words, the pronunciation 
of the former of which can easilv be settled, 
whereas that of the latter seems to defy all 
settlement. How are we to call the Christian 
poet who spells his name C-o-w-p-e-r ? He 
himself has decided this for us. He makes 
"" his name rhyme with trooper. We must 
therefore call him Coo-per, not Cow-per ; 


seeing that a man's own usage is undeniably • 
the rule for the pronunciation of his own 
name.^ I have had a letter from a correspon- 
dent, urging that this rhyme may have been 
only a poetical pronunciation of the name, not 
the usual one ; as Coleridge in one place 
makes his name rhyme to " polar ridge." But 
I have received an interesting testimony from 
Dr. Goddard Rogers, confirming the settle- 
ment of the pronunciation as given above. 
" Cowper," he says, "not only decided the 
matter by 'making his name rhyme to trooper;' 
but in conversation always begged his friends 
to call him Cooper. I have this from a very v 
old gentleman whom I attended in his last 
illness. He was Thomas Palmer Bull, son of 
Cowper's friend, ' smoke^inhaling Bull,' and 
had himself heard the poet make the remark." 

71. Another word also brings into ques- " cucum- 
tion the ^^coo''^ and ^^cow,''^ but without any 

such chance of a settlement. It is the agree- 
able but somev^^hat indigestible gourd spelt 
c-u-C'U-m-b-e-r. Is it is to be coo-cumber ? cow- 
cumber 1 or kew-cu.mher'i The point is one 
warmly debated : so warmly in certain circles, 
that when I had a house full of pupils, we 
were driven to legislation on it, merely to 
keep the peace of the household. Whenever 


the unfortunate word occurred at table, which 
was almost every day during the summer 
months, a fierce fray invariably set in. At 
last we abated the nuisance by enacting 
that in future the first syllable should 
be dropped, and the article be called for 
under the undebateable name of ''^ cumber ^ 
Perhaps, of the three, the strongest claim 
^ might be set up for Jcew^ or Q-cumber : seeing 
that the Latin name, cucumis, can hardly by 
English lips be otherwise pronounced. 
Mis-pro- ^^' ^ cannot abstain from saying a few 

of Scriptm-e words ou the misprouunciation of Scripture 
names. proper names by our clergy. This, let me 
remind them, is quite inexcusable. It shows 
a disregard and absence of pains in a matter, 
about the least part of which no pains ought 
to be spared. To take it on no other ground, 
is it justifiable in them to allow themselves 
to offend by their ignorance or carelessness 
the ears of the most intelligent of their 
hearers ? This was not the spirit of one who 
said he would not eat meat while the world 
lasted, if it scandalized his neighbour. But 
this is not all. When I hear a man flounder 
about among St. Paul's salutations, calling 
half of them wrongly, I am sure that that 
man does not know his Bible. The same 


carelessness is sure to show itself in misap- 
propriation of texts, wrong understanding of 
obsolete phrases, and the like. The man who 
talks of Aristobiilus in the Lesson, is as 
likely as not to preach from St. Paul's " I 
know nothing by myself," to show us that 
the Apostle wanted divine teaching^ and not 
to be aware that he meant, he was not con- 
scious of any fault * 

73. Three Sundays before this was written. Examples. 
Jan. 18, 1863, we had the crucial chapter, 
Rom. xvi., for the evening lesson. A. friend 
writes to me from a distant city in Italy : — 
" In the afternoon a stranger officiated ; but 
as he saluted ^ssyncrltus and Patrobas, I' 
knew what to expect in the sermon, and so it 
was." Another writes from London, that he 
was on that day at a fashionable London 
church, and heard Epenetus and Patrobas 
introduced to the congregation. A clergy- 
man in the West of England found on his 
breakfast-table one Monday morning a note 
from his congregation to this effect : — 

To-day you said, " ye know Stephanas ;" 
This misconception, sir, doth pain us: 
For it is Stephanas we know, 
And beg that you will call him so.t 

* See the text explained, in paragraph 319 below. 
1 1 have had a very amusing letter, written anony 


A friend of mine heard the following in a 
London church, and, strange to say, from a 
schoolmaster: — "Trophlnius have I left at 
Miletum sick." But it perhaps may be said 
to me, with the beautiful inconsequence of 
the logic of the present day, Is a man a per- 
fect Christian minister, because he knows 
how to pronounce these names ? To which I 
fearlessly answer, " No, by no means ; but he 
is, at all events, as near to it as if he did 
not know how to pronounce them." I am 
"Johnny put in mind, by this question, of "Johnny 

Stittle." J 1. </ 

Stittle," a redoubtable preacher who used to 
hold forth at Cambridge, in a chapel in 
*Green Street. The tradition of him and his 
sayings was yet a living thing, when I went 
up as an under-graduate in 1828. His 
wont was to rail at the studies of the Uni- 
versity ; and in doing so on one occasion, 
after having wound himself up to the re- 
quisite pitch of ferv^our, he exclaimed, in a 

mously, from the clergyman in the West of England to 
whom these verses were sent. He comes to a rather 
curious conclusion from the fact of my having told the 
story. He infers that I was present, and that I made 
the verses. As this may be my only means of com- 
municating with him, let me assure him this was not 
the case. I merely tell the tale as 'twas told to 


voice of thunder, "D'ye ihmk Powl knew a. 
Greek ?"* 

74. A writer in the " English Churchman " 

* I have had two interesting communications from 
Cambridge, giving accurate details respecting " Johnny 

He is mentioned in the Rev. Abner Brown's " Recol- 
lections of Rev. Chas. Simeon," Introduction, p. xiiL, 
where he is described as a "day labourer," and it is 
said that Mr. Simeon thought well enough of him to 
encourage him by pecuniary assistance. 

In a memoir of Rowland Hill, by Mr. Jones, are the 
following notices of Stittle : — 

"During Mr. Hill's residence at Cambridge he was 
much attached to ' Johnny Stittle,' one of Mr. Ber- 
ridge's converts. He was naturally a gifted man, 
though, like his patron, he moved in his own orbit. 
He preached for many years in Green Street, Cam- 
bridge, and died in 1813, in his 87th year. 

"As Mr. Hill was on his way to Duxford to preach 
for the Missionary Society, he suddenly exclaimed, ' I 
must go to Cambridge, and see the widow of an old 
clergyman who is living there, for I have a message to 
leave with her.' On being asked if the message was 
important, he replied, ' Yes, sir, I want the old lady — 
who will soon be in heaven — to give my love to Johnny 
Stittle, and to tell him I shall soon see him again.' " 

Another correspondent says, " I am old enough to re- 
member, and to have actually heard, Johnny Stittle at 
Cambridge. He compared eternity, in one of his ser- 
mons, to a great clock, which said ' tick ' in one cen- 
tury, and ' tack ' in the next. Then suddenly turning 
to some gownsmen, he said, ' Now go home, and cal- 
culate the length of the pendulum.' " 

One must acknowledge that if there was eccentricity 
here, tl^^ere was something very like genius also. 


adds the following to many instances of mis- 
pronunciation of Scripture proper names. 
" Too well," says the writer in the " Church- 
man," " do I remember the city of Colossi 
pronounced Coloss, as if it were a word of 
only two syllables ; the ejnstle to Philemon ; 
* the gainsaying of Core' (one syllable), betray- 
ing that the speaker had no conception he 
was talking of the person who in the 16th 
chapter of Xumbers is designated ' Korah.' " 
I have also a complaint sent me of a clergy- 
man who insists on always saying " Achaicus ;" 
and an anecdote of a remark beino: made, how 
well the Venite exultemus was chanted. 

'75. A correspondent requests me to endea- 
vour to correct the very common mispro- 
nunciation Timothetis, into the proper sound, 
Timothe-iis. On the other hand, one of my 
Censors expresses a hope that as I so strongly 
advocate our following the Greeks in the pro- 
nunciation of their proper names, I shall be 
consistent, and never again, in reading the 
Samaria IcssoDS, call thosc aucicnt citics, Samaria and 

and I'hila- -r-n -i i i i • ^ • ^ ry 

iicipMa. ir^hiiadelphia, otherwise than bamaria and 
Philadelphia. The answer to this is very 
simple — viz., that I do not advocate the 
following of the Greeks in the pronunciation 
of their proper names, in any case where 


English usage lias departed from their pro- 
nunciation. It is in cases where there is no 
such usage, and where the reader is thrown 
back on what ought to be his own knowledge 
of the form and composition of the name, that 
we are pained at discovering that one who 
ought to be able rightly to divide the Word 
of Truth, is not in the habit of consulting his 
New Testament in the original Greek. 

76. But there is more to be said about the 
two rather unfortunate instances given by my 
critic. The tendency of our language has 
been universally to shorten the last syllable 
but one, in those names of cities which in 
Greek ended in la. Alexandria is now called 
Alexandria; Seleucia, Seleucia ; and Samaria 
and Philadelphia, Samaria and Philadelphia. 
But no such usage infringes the proper Greek 
pronunciation of Epcenetus, Asyncritus, Patro- . 
baSj AristobuluSj and the like. Of course, 
usage is not immutable. We now say Zahu- 
lon, but the day may come when the stricter 
scholars may have overborne common usage, 
and we may say Zahulon^ w^hich is right 
according to the Hebrew and the Greek. We 
now say Sennacherib ; and so universal is this 
usage, that a correspondent wTites in strong 
terms, stigmatising the strictly accurate pro- 






nunciation, Sennacherib, as a blunder. When 
I was at school, the common practice was to 
pronounce the names of two of the Greek 
letters, as " Epsilon,^'* and " Omicron ;" now, 
such sounds are unknown in schools, and the 
right pronunciation, "Upsilon " and " Omlcron,^^ 
is universal. 

77. Three correspondents have written 
about another Scripture name. It is that of 
a person saluted in Rom. xvi. 9, and in 
our present Bibles spelt U-r-h-a-n-e. The 
common idea respecting this name is that it 
belongs to a woman, and most readers pro- 
nounce it as three syllabes, JJrhayie. But it 
is simply the English for the Latin name 
UrhanuSj in English Urbane, or, as we now 
call it. Urban. The assumed name of the 
Editor of "The Gentleman's Magazine" has 
been, time out of mind, Sylvanus Urban. 
The royal printers, who have made so many 
unauthorised alterations in the text of our 
Bibles, might with advantage drop out the 
final " e " from this word, and thus prevent 
the possibility of confusion. 

78. I may mention that in verse 7 of the 
same chapter, Junia, who is mentioned with 
Andronicus, is not a woman, but a man, 


79. While treating of the pronunciation of " covetous." 
those who minister in public, two other words 

occur to me which are very commonly mangled 
by our clergy. One of these is " covetous,'''' and 
its substantive, ^^ covetousness.''^ I hope that 
some of my clerical readers will be induced to 
leave oflf pronouncing them '•'' covetious,'''' and 
" covetiousness.''^ I can assure them, that when 
they do thus call the words, one at least of 
their hearers has his appreciation of their 
teaching disturbed. 

80. The other hint I would venture to give the Revela- 

them is, that the mysterious concluding book 

of Scripture is the Revelation* of St. John, 

not the Revelations. I imagine this very 

common mistake must have arisen from our 

being accustomed to speak of the Lamenta^/ows 

of Jeremiah, in which case the word is plural. 

80«. A complaint respecting slovenly pro- " Abie " for 

. . , , 1 . , " Abel," &c. 

nunciation has been sent me, which seems to 
bring before us a matter of some delicacy 
and uncertainty. A correspondent blames 

* I had a strong letter of remonstrance for having 
called this book the '■'■Revelation of St. John,''' where- 
as it is, by ch. i. 1, "the Revelation of Jesns Christ." 
Here we have a misapprehension of the meaning of 
the preposition ; so puerile, as not to be worth record- 
ing, were it not to illustrate a point hereafter to be 
treated of. 


rightly the slovenly habit of pronouncing 
"Abel," "Mabel," "Ethel," as if they were 
''Able;' ''Mable;' '' EthJe ;'' and speaks 
with proper severity of Walker, who, in his 
"Pronouncing Dictionary," has set down 
• " ei'/e," as the pronunciation of " evil." So 
far seems clear. But, when we come to 
the question, whether all words in -el or -il 
are to be rigidly pronounced in full, we are, 
I think, compelled to yield somewhat to 
custom. Nay, custom has, as matter of fact, 
prevailed in some cases, even to the altera- 
tion of our conventional spelling. What was 
once " battail," then "battel," has now be- 
come "battle;" "chattail," or "chattel," 
has become "cattle;" "subtile," or "sub- 
til," has become " subtle ;" " castell," or 
" castel," has become " castle." The word 
" devil " is far more frequently pronounced 
" devvle," than " de-vill ;" indeed, this latter 
pronunciation, in the mouth of an affected 
precisian, is offensive. Good taste, and the 
observance of usage, must in such matters 
be our guides. 
Criticism in 81. A very curious and choice bit of 

a news- '. , , 

paper. newspaper criticism on these " notes was 

sent me the other day. The writer says : 
" There seems, to our mind, something small. 


not to say ludicrous and absurd, about tbe 
notion of a dignitary of the Church of Eng- 
land constituting himself the censor and 
reporter of small slips of pronunciation, such 
as Sophcenetus for Sophcenetus, and the like. 
"We should think none the worse of a man for 
tripping once, or even twice, in those long 
Pauline lists of salutations. Not to trip at 
all would, except in the case of practised and 
familiar scholars, suggest to us the notion 
that rather more pains and time had been 
bestowed upon the matter than it deserved." 
Where this critic found the name Sophcenetus 
among the Pauline salutations, I am at a loss 
to say : at all events it shews that he prac- 
tised his own advice, and had not bestowed 
more time nor pains on the matter than it 
deserved. But it is his doctrine, that in 
knowledge of the proprieties of these minute 
points in Scripture, inaccuracy is better than 
accuracy, that I would especially hold up 
for reprobation. Very little time and pains 
are really required in the matter. Every 
clergyman is, or ought to be, familiar with his 
Greek Testament : two minutes' reference to 
that will show him how every one of these 
names ought to be pronounced ; or if he is in 
the practice of regular reading in the original. 


he will not want even this two minutes' 
reference. And those who cannot refer to the 
original will be kept right without any pains 
at all, if the clergy are right; for they will 
simply follow their leaders. Surely this doc- 
trine of the writer in the newspaper cannot 
represent the general opinion among those 
bodies who have of late years been making- 
such remarkable advance in the accurate 
study of the original text of the Scriptures, 
and have by the results of the training in 
some of their admirable colleges done so 
much for the credit of biblical scholarship in 

82. For my own part, I was disposed to put 

together this critique and a letter which I 

received from a friend, saying that he had 

heard a person, not a clergyman, read Arc- 

tui'2is and Orion and the Pleiades. I could not 

help imagining that I had tracked my critic 

tripping twice or even more in what I daresay 

be believes to be some more of these Pauline 


s-riuus 83. The really serious aspect of the matter 

ments of comcs bcforc us, when we hear what my friend 

this matter, adds, that the man thus reading proceeded to 

expound the chapter. An error in pronuncia- 

* See note B at end of book. 


tion may be, in an ordinary person, a trifle ; but 
when a teacher makes it, it is no longer a trifle : 
and for this reason, that a teacher is bound 
to be acquainted with the real meaning of 
that which he expounds, and enforces ; with 
the context of the passages, and with the 
spirit and force of the sacred word as the 
Spirit has given it to us. And when we find 
a teacher ignorant of even outward matters of 
common information respecting the text, we 
are not led to hope much for his power of 
rightly dividing the word of truth. That it 
may please Him who is the fountain of 
wisdom to make exceptions, and to endow 
even ignorant men with insight into the 
meaning of His word, no one would deny; 
still, it is not our business to take such excep- 
tions for granted, but rather to take for 
granted His ordinary course of proceeding on 
our part, and to provide for its success as we 
best may. He who feels this, will not think 
correctness even in the lists of Pauline saluta- 
tions a trifling matter. 

84. I now come to that which must form a Csage and 

, t, T I 1 construc- 

prmcipal part ot my little work, — some notes tion. 
on the usage of words and construction of 
sentences. And let me premise, in order to 
prevent mistakes, that my object in these 

F 2 


notes is not to lay down nor to exemplify 
mere rules of grammar, — though of course 
the consideration of such rules must often 
come before us, — but to illustrate the usages 
and tendencies of our common language, as 
matter of fact, by the discussion of questions 
arising out of doubtful words and phrases. 
One of the most interesting subjects connected 
with a languaore is its tendencies : the cur- 
rents, so to speak, which set in for or against 
certain modes of speech or thought. These 
are to be discovered in all languages, and in 
none more notably than our own. We are a 
mixed race, and our tongue everywhere bears 
traces of the fact. We have gone through 
more crises of religious and political strife 
than most nations, and thought and speech 
have ever been freer in England than in 
other countries. From these, and from other 
circumstances, the English language has be- 
come more idiomatic than most others ; and 
the tendency is still going on among us, to 
set aside accurate grammatical construction, 
and to speak rather according to idiom than 
according to rule. 
Idiom. 85. Let me explain myself: and to this 

end let me say somethinc: about that which is 
known as the idiom of a language, as distin- 


guisbed from strictness of grammatical con- 
struction. This word " idiom," then, is de- 
rived from the Greek, and properly signifies a 
thing or habit peculiar to one person or set of 
persons, and forming an exception to general 
rules. Our usagre of the term has confined 
this its meanins: in EnMish to matters of 
language. When we speak of an idiom, we 
mean some saying, or some way of speaking, 
peculiar to some one language or family of 
languages, which can only be accounted for 
by the peculiar tendency, or habit of thought, 
of those who use it. When we say that a 
phrase is idiomatic^ we mean that it bears 
this character. 

86. Now let us see to what this amounts. 
Such expressions, if judged by strict rules, 
will commonly fail to satisfy them. In so 
far as they arc idiomatic, they are depar- 
tures from the beaten track of that gram- 
matical construction, and that critical analogy, 
which are common to all lanoruao;es. For the 
rules of grammar and of logic, being depen- 
dent not on local usage, but on the con- 
stitution of the human mind, are common 
to all nations. And when any nation sets 
up, so to speak, for itself, and indulges in 
the peculiarities which we call idioms, it 



takes a course which these general rules do 
not justify. 
Idiomatic 87. Let US show this by some examples. 

mode of ad- , " ^ 

dress. It is the habit of modern European nations to 

avoid the second person singular in addressing 
individuals. Some lanijuasres use the second 
person plural instead: some the third person. 
The English, the French, and others, say " yoii'"' 
for " thou ;" the Germans, and those cognate 
to them, say " they " for " thou ;" the Italians, 
still more strangely, say " she,^'' meaning "your 
excellency." These are the idioms or idio- 
matic usages of these languages respectively. 
Every one speaking any of those languages 
must use the idiomatic expression, or he 
■would render himself ridiculous * 

* Nay, the consequences may sometimes be much 
more serious. A correspondent sends me the folloAv- 
ing story: " My friend, a student in the University of 
Heidelberg, acquired his first knowledge of German 
chiefly by colloquial exercise with his fellow-students, 
who habituall}' addressed each other in the second 
person singular, 'fZ?/.' Having thus acquired enough 
of the language to blunder through a conversation, he 
was present at a party, where he danced with the sister 
of one of his fellow-students, and entertained her with 
the choicest German at his coramand,but unfortunately 
always addressed her as ' chi.'' This (to a German ear) 
impertinent familiarity was either overheard by, or re- 
ported to, the young lady's brother, who deemed it 
impossible to w^ipe out the scandal by any other means 


88. But, if we judge such expressions by- 
strict rules, they cannot be defended. It 
cannot be correct to address one person as if 
he were many : it cannot be correct to look 
at and address one person as if he were not 
present, and, being absent, were raore than 
one. We all know this : notwithstanding we 
do not criticise and carp at every such usage, 

but simply acquiesce in it as being the common 

89. Let us take another instance. Some Elliptic 


languages are more eU'qitic than others: that 
is, the habits of thought of some nations 
will bear the omission of certain members of 
a sentence, better than the habits of thought 
of other nations. In English we should say, 
** A.t the Equinox the sun rises at six and sets at 
six.^'' But if we were speaking in French, 
we should say, " At the Equinox, the sun 
rises at six hours of the morning, and sets at 
six hours of the evenino:." Xow here there is 

than a duel. In vain my friend explained his ignorance 
of the German conventional mode of address. The 
offence had been committed in public, and if the culprit 
wished to remain at Heidelberg in peace in future, he 
must fight there. They fought accordingly, and the 
skilful German cleverly inflicted a slight wound which 
drew blood; honour was satisfied, and the affair ended 
in pipes, friendship, and beer." 



no doubt that the Frenchman has the advan- 
tage in fulness and propriety of expression. 
And one disposed to cavil at our English 
sentence, and to treat it as some of my sen- 
tences hare been treated, might say, "rises at 
six and sets at six ! Six what ? Six miles, 
or six minutes, or six occasions ?" But we 
do not in practice thus cavil, because we are 
in the enjoyment of common sense, and we 
are prepared, in the daily use of our language, 
to omit that which the thought would natu- 
rally supply.* 
Caprice of 90. One morc example. In English, our 

idiom. \ . 

common mode of salutation to one another is, 
" How d'ye do P Now of course we all under- 
stand, that in this case we use the verb 
" do " in a neuter sense : in the same sense 
which it bears in the reply of the disciples 
concerning Lazarus : " Lord, if he sleep, he 
shall do well." But suppose a person were to 
insist on this usage being carried throughout 
our converse, and to make it an objection to 
' the question ^'How d'ye do P' that one can- 
not say in the same sense, " I went to see A 
or B, and he did well." We should at once 
reply, if we thought on the matter, that while 

* See note C, at the end of the volume 


the verb admits of being thiis used in certain 
tenses, and in certain connexions, it does not 
admit of being thus used in certain other 
tenses, and in certain other connexions ; and 
that the account to be given of this is, that 
the English people will have it so : it is an 
idiom, or arbitrary usage, of their language. 

91. The capricious character of idiomatic 
usage is admirably illustrated by this very 
example. For though it is admissible to say, 
" I went to see A or B, and he was doing very 
well," the words would not carry the sense, 
that I was able to say to him " How d'ye 
do?" and he to reply, "Very well, thank 
you ;" but would convey the impression that 
he had lately met with an accident, and was 
going on favourably. 

92. Some idiomatic expressions seem to "me- 

. . ^ thinks." 

defy any attempt to give a satisfactory ac- 
count of them. Take the phrase " methinksy 
It is believed to have arisen from a strange 
impersonal use of the verb, and the trans- 
position of the pronoun, which should come 
after it. We have the similar phrase, " me- 
seems,^^ which can more easily be resolved : 
viz., into "it seems to me." That this is the 
account to be given of both, appears plain, 
seeing that in both cases we find in use the 


other and more formal third person, '■'"ine- 
thinketh " and " me-seemeth." But what an 
expression to come under the ferule of the 
strict grammarian ! 
Example 93. I want yet one more example for the 

from the 

Greek. purpose I have in view, and I must get it 
from a dead language. In the Greek, — which 
is perhaps the finest and most subtle vehicle 
ever formed for human thought, — it is the 
practice to join a plural noun of the neuter 
gender to a verb in the singular number. 
Now, of course, according to the rules of uni- 
versal grammar, this is wrong. A plural noun 
should be joined to a plural verb. But the 
Greek had his reason, and a very good one it 
was. He felt, that thinsfs without life, when 
spoken of in the plural, formed but one mass, 
and raio^ht be treated as one thinor. And so 
the tendencv of the national thousjht, which 
was to define and to express the subtle dis- 
tinctions of thought, prev^ailed over the rule 
of grammar, and the usage became idio- 

Spoken and 94. Let another thing also be remem- 

written • i i i. 

English. bered. We must distiuiruish between the 

English which we speak, and that which we 

write. Many expressions are not only tole- 
rated but required in conversation, which are 


not usually put on paper. Thus, for instance, 
every one says " cari't " for cannot^ " wonU " for 
will not, " isiiH " for is not, in conversation ; 
but we seldom see these contractions in , 
books, except where a conversation is related. 
This is a difference which the foreigner is 
generally slow in apprehending. He says " / 
will not^'' " / cannot^'' " / must not^'' " / shall 
not ;" " / am" for " /"m," " they are " for 
" therfre:''^ and he often maybe detected by his 
precision in these matters, even after he has 
mastered the pronunciation and construction 
of our language. This difference between our 
spoken and our written language should 
always be borne in mind, when we are treat- 
ing of expressions commonly found in collo- 
quial English. Many persons, in' judging of 
them, bring them to the test of the stricter 
rule of written composition, to which they 
are not fairly amenable. 

95. Let me further illustrate this ten- "those 
dency of nations by another usage now al- things." 
most become idiomatic, and commonly found 
in the talk of us all. I mean the expression 
" these " or " those hind of thinr/s^ At first 
sight, this seems incorrect and indefensible. 
It would appear as if we ought to say " this 
kind of things,^"* " that kind of things." It 


becomes tlien an interesting inquiry, as it 
was in the other case, why this should be so. 
And here again my readers must excuse me 
if I go to a dead language for my illustration 
— not for ray reason : the reason will be found 
in the laws of thought : but it will be best 
illustrated bv citinsj the usaije of that lancruaore 
in which, more than in any other, the laws 
of thought have found their expression, 
tio""^* ^^' ^^ ^^ Greek language, there is an 

idiomatic usage called attraction. It may be 
thus described. If an important noun in a 
sentence is in a certain case, say the genitive 
or dative, a relative pronoun referring to it is 
put in the same case, though by the construc- 
tion of the sentence it ought to be in another. 
Thus, if I wanted to put into Greek the sen- 
tence, '■'■ I gave it to the man whom I saw,''^ the 
relative pronoun " whom " would not be in 
the accusative case, as it ought to be, governed 
by the verb *' saw," but in the same case as 
"waw," viz., dative, and the sentence would 
be roughly represented, as far as the mere 
form of it is concerned, by the English "/ 
gave it to the man^ to whom I saic.^^ 

97. Now in the way of speaking of which 
I treat, it is evident that this same tendency, 
to draw the less important word i^to simi- 


larity to the more important one, is suffered 
to prevail over strict grammatical exactness. 
We are speaking oi ^^ things''^ m the plural. 
Our pronoun " this " really has reference 
to '"''Icind^'' not to '■'' things '^ but the fact 
of " things " being plural, gives a plural com- 
plexion to the whole, and we are tempted to 
put "<A^5" into the plural. That this is the 
account to be given, appears still more plainly 
from the fact that not unfrequently we find 
a rival attraction prevails, and the clause 
takes a singular complexion from the other 
substantive, " hind^ We often hear people 
say, " this kind of thing^'' " that sort of thing.'''' 
It must be confessed that the phrases, " this 
kind of things^'''' '■^ that sort of things,''"' have a 
very awkward sound ; and we find that our 
best writers have the popular expression, 
These kind, those sort* 

98. One word on " this " and " that,'''' as we "this" and 
pass onward. " This " and " these " refer to per- 
sons and things present, or under immediate 
consideration ; *' that " and " those " to per- 
sons and things not j^'^^scnt, nor under im- 
mediate consideration ; or if either of these, 
one degree further removed than the others 

*See note D, at the end of the voluine. 

" that." 


of which are used " this " and " these.^^ We 
find this rule sometimes curiously violated in 
conversation and in writing. A barrister 
tells me that the confusion is common in the 
Irish law courts: "Tliose arguments I now 
use," <kc. Another Irish correspondent is 
often greeted with, "That's a could day, yer 
riv'rence." I have a Scottish friend, who 
always designates the book which he has in 
his hand as '• that book ;" the portfolio of 
drawings which he is turning over as " those 

99. We have this usage in England, but 
it carries another meaning. If I have a book 
in my hand, and say, " that hook will make a 
great sensation,^'' I mean to remove my own 
and my hearer's attention from the particular 
volume, or even the present consideration 
of its contents, and to describe it in its 
general, and as it were historical, eflfect on 
the world. 

100. The oddest departure from the com- 
mon usage of "M/5" and " ^Aa^," which I 
remember to have observed, was in a notice 
which I repeatedly saw, in the summer of 
1863, posted on houses in Devonshire, " Those 
houses to let,^'' " That house for sale.'''' 

"to-day." 100a. In ''this da^j,^^ ''this night'^ the 



somewhat stiff and formal demonstrative 
pronoun is curiously abbreviated. " To-day,^'' 
" to-night,'''' are universally used. In the 
dialect of the western counties, " this year^'' 
is commonly expressed by " to-yeary In 
Scotland and Ireland, " the day^"^ " the night!!'' 
" the year,^"* are the ordinary expressions : 
" it'll no rain the day," &c. 

101. Confusion sometimes arises in our Triple 

. meaning of 

language from the triple meanmg of " ma^, "that." 
which, with us, is a demonstrative pronoun, a 
relative pronoun, and a conjunction. It is 
possible to use six " thats " consecutively in 
the same sentence. Take the sentence, " He 
said, that the meaning which the report which 
that man told him had been thought to bear 
was more than had been intended." Here I 
have already " that,^'' conjunction ; and I may 
express " the meaning,^'' by " that,^'' demon- 
strative pronoun ; " which^'* "by " that,'' relative 
pronoun ; " the report,^'' by " ?Aa/," demon- 
strative pronoun ; " lohich " again, by " that,^'' 
relative pronoun ; and then I end with " that 
man^'' " that " being in this last case again a 
demonstrative pronoun. So that I get the 
following sentence, with, as I said, six " thats'' 
occurring consecutively : " He said that that 
that that that that man told him had been 


thought to mean, was more than had been 

102. From this threefold import of the 
word it sometimes is not apprehended which 
of its meanings it bears in a given sentence. 
Ps. xc. 4, in the Praver-book version runs thus 
— " A thousand years in Thy sight are but 
as yesterday, seeing that is 'past as a watch in 
the niffht." Here, of course, that is the de- 
monstrative pronoun, and refers to " i/ester- 
day^'' which has just been spoken of; and it 
ought, in reading, to have a certain emphasis 
laid on it. But not unfrequently we hear it 
read in the responses of the congregation, as 
if it were the conjunction : " Seeing that is 
past as a watch in the night." I remember 
havino: some trouble in curinor our choristers 
at Canterbury of sinrjincr it thus. 
"this 103. TVhat are we to think of the very 

-that' common expressions, " <AiS 7?iWfA," '■'■ that 

much /" We continually hear and read, 
'• This much I know," " Of that much I am 

* Seven ^'■thaW'' maybe nsed together, if one of 
them is a mere citation. "I assert that that 'that,' 
that that that tJiat person told me contained, was im- 
properly emphasized." And this use may he carried 
even further yet : "I assert, that that, that that ' that,' 
that that that tJtat person told me contained, implied, 
has been misunderstood." 


certain," and the like. It might be supposed 
at first sight that this way of speaking was 
indefensible. " Much " is an adjective of 
quantity, and requires, in order to define it, 
not a pronoun, but an adverb. AYe may say 
very much, pretty much (where '"'■pretty " is 
used in its colloquial adverbial sense of 
tolerably, moderatelij), as much, so much, or 
thus much; but from such a view it would 
appear that we must not say " this much,^'' or 
" that muchy Still, may not another view 
be taken? High, deep, long, broad, are 
adjectives of measure; but we may say a 
foot high, a yard long, an ell broad. And if 
we choose to designate with the hand, or 
otherwise, the measure of a foot, yard, or ell, 
we may substitute the demonstrative pronoun 
for the substantive, and say with precisely 
the same construction of the sentence, " this 
high^^ " this long,^^ " that broads Now, how 
is this with " much P If I may use this and 
that to point out the extent of length, height, 
and breadth which I want to indicate, why 
not also to point out the extent of quantity 
which I want to indicate ? When I say " Of 
this mucJil am certain,^"* I indicate, by the pro- 
noun this, something which I am about to 
state, and which is the extent of my cer- 



tainty. When I &ay ^^ That much I Icn iv 
before,^'' I indicate, by the pronoun " that,^' tlia 
piece of intelligence which my friend supposed 
to be new to me. But it may be replied, I 
might have said, " Of this I am certain,'''' 
''That I knew before:' True: but then I 
should express nothing as to the extent of my 
certainty or previous knowledge. I believe 
both expressions to be correct ; not so elegant 
perhaps as " Thus much,'"' but at the same 
time more fitted for colloquial use. 

•'thtit ill." 104. There is one use of that, which is quite 

indefensible, and, indeed, is not found except as 
a provincialism. I mention it, because some 
might suppose that what I have said might 
be cited in defence of it likewise. I mean, 
when it is used as a qualifying word with 
adjectives not denoting extent, and when 
itself must be explained by " to that extent^'' 
I have heard in the midland and eastern 
counties, "I was that ill, that I could not go 
to work :" " He was that drunk, that he 
didn't know what he was about." * 

'•ever so" 105. Are we to say " ever so,'"* or " never so,''"' 

or "never . .titi / \ iin 

so J" 111 expressions like " be he ever {never) so old, 

* Au Irish correspondent informs me that " which /" 
is used in Ireland as equivalent to our " ichatP* or 
^^ichat did yoic soy'P'' 


and the like ? Usao;e seems divided. In fa- 
miliar speech we mostly say '■'■ever so :^^ in 
writing, and especially in the solemn and ele- 
vated style, we mostly find ""never soP We 
say to a troublesome petitioner, " If you ask 
me ever so much, I won't give it you :" but 
we read, " Which refuseth to hear the voice 
of the charmer, charm he never so wisely." 
Can we give any account of this? What is 
the difference between the expressions ? Be- 
cause one would think there must be some 
difference, when two such words are con- 
cerned, which are the very opposites of one 
another. Sentences similai-ly constructed 
with these tw^o words are as- different in 
meaning as possible. " Had he ever loved at 
all," and " Had he never loved at all," are 
opposite in meaning to one another. And 
so, actually and literally, are the two w^hich 
we are now considering : but in the general 
sense they both convey the meaning which 
is intended. This may be made plain as 
follows : " Be it ever so large," means, 
"though it attain every imaginable degree 
of size :" " be it never so large," means, 
"thouo'li there be no imao-inable dci^ree of 
size which it does not attain." The former 
is inclusively affirmative ; the latter is ex- 



clusivcly negative : and these two amount to 
the same, 
'•what 106. There are some curious phenomena 

■was," " what i • i 

was not.' coming under the same head as this last. I 
may say, " What was my astonishment," and I 
may say, " What w^as not my astonishmcTit," 
. and I may convey the same meaning. By the 
former I mean, " how great was my astonish- 
ment ;" by the latter, that no astonishment 
could be greater than mine was. 

"no" and 107. Another correspondent mentions a 

•' j'es '' the * 

same. curious fact about neoratives and affirmatives. 

If we were to ask the question, " Had you 
only the children with you ?" a person south 
of the Tweed would answer " 7io," and a per- 
son north of the Tweed " y^j«," both meaning 
the same thing — viz., that only the children 
were there. I think I should myself, though 
a Southron, answer yes. But there is no 
doubt that such questions are answered in the 
two ways when the same meaning is intended 
to be conveyed. The account to be given of 
this seems to be, that " only " is " none but." 
" Had you none but the children with you V 
and the answer is "■ None,^'' affirming the 
question. So that the negative form naturally 
occurs to the mind in framing its answer, and 
" none " becomes " /jo." Whereas in the other 


case this form does not occur to the mind, but 
simply to affirm the matter inquired of, viz., 
the having only the children : and the answer 
is ''Even so;' or "Fe5." 

108. In some sentences unobjectionably '-oldest 

... . inmate.'^ 

expressed, it is impossible to be sure of the 
meaninfy. An establishment has been founded 
fifty years. A person tells me that he is 
" one of its oldest inmates." Am I to under- 
stand that he is one of the few survivors of 
those who came to it at or near its first foun- 
dation, in which case he may be any age 
above fifty ; or am I to understand that he is 
at the present moment one of the oldest in 
aare of the inmates there, which would brino; 
his age up to between eighty and ninety ? 
In other words, does the term " oldest " 
qualify him absolutely, or only as an inmate 
of that establishment? 

109. The mention of degrees of compa- "lesser." 
rison leads me to another point, which I 

have been requested to notice by more than 
one correspondent. It is the use of lesser in 
certain combinations, instead of less. Are we 
to stigmatise this as an impropriety, or to 
regard it as an idiomatic irregularity which 
we raiist be content to tolerate ? It seems 
to me that the latter must be our course. 


The usasje is sanctioned b^ our best writers, 
and that not here and there, but uniformly, 
" God made two great lights : the greater 
light to rule the day, and the lesser light to 
rule the night." 

110. The account to be given of it seems 
to be somewhat like that which we gave of a 
former irregularity : that it has arisen origi- 
nally by the force of attraction to another 
word, greater, which in such sentences pre- 
cedes it. For example, when we have spoken 
of *' the greater light,'''' " the less light " sounds 
halting and imperfect ; and the termination 
er is added to balance the sentence. Some- 
times the usaore occurs where the other 
word is not expressed : as when we say 
"the lesser of two evils:" but still the com- 
parison is in the mind, though not on the 
tongue. It may be too, that it is not only 
the sound of the one word ^^ greater,''^ which 
is usually the companion of '■'■ lesser, '''* but 
that of almost every other comparative in 
the language, which has produced the effect ; 
for they are almost without exception dis- 
syllables. It is a confirmation of the account 
which we have been giving of this usage, 
that no one thinks of attaching the addi- 
tional svllable to "Zf'^s" when it is combined 


with '''"more;'' more and less beino- already 
well balanced. 

111. We may notice the growing practice "replace." 
of using the word '•'■ replace^^"* to signify just the 
opposite of its real meaning. " Lord Derby 

went out of office, and was replaced by Lord 
Palmerston." This, as now used, conveys the 
meaning, " loas succeeded by Lord Palmerston." 
But put the sentence before our grandfathers, 
and they would have understood it to mean 
that Lord Derby went out of office, and Lord 
Palmerston put him in again ; he was replaced 
by Lord Palmerston. 

112. I need not say that the usage is bor- 
rowed from that of the French '■'•remplacerr 
But there is this difference, that the French 
verb does not mean to replace^ in our sense, 
nor has it in its derivation anything to do 
with " replace^'' but is " remplir la place^"* " to 
fill the place^'' and thus has for its proper 
meaning that which it is now attempted to 
give the English word replace. Lord Derby 
went out of office, and was '■'' remplace^'' i. e., his • 
place was filled, by Lord Palmerston ; but he 
was not replaced, i. e., put hack again., by his 

113. The '■'' enclosure'''' of a letter, what is "enclo- 

it ? Is it that which encloses the letter, viz., 


the envelope ? or is it something enclosed in 
the letter, as a dried flower, or a lock of hair ? 
or is it something enclosed with the letter, as 
another letter of the same size, or a map or 
plan of a larger size \ 

114. Strictly speating, I suppose the noun 
is an abstract one, siirnifvino: the act of en- 
closing, as exposure means the act of exposing. 
In this sense we might say " the enclosure of 
letters in envelopes, before the penny postage 
was established, incurred the payment of 
double postage." Then, when we pass from 
the abstract to the concrete use of the word, 
i. e., use it to signify not the act of enclosing, 
but something which is the instrument, or 
object, or result of that act, the question 
arises, ought it to signify the thing en- 
closing , or the thing enclosed ? There are 
examples both ways. Cincture is properly 
the act of girding. A cincture is the thing 
which girds, not the thing which is girded. 
But on the other hand, a fissure is the rift 
produced by cleaving, not the thing which 
cleaves it. There seems no reason why enclo- 
sure may not be used in both senses, that 
which encloses, and that which is enclosed. 
We may say of sheep in a fold, " the flock 
was all within the enclosure," meaning, 


within the hurdles surrounding the square ; 
or we may say that " the flock occupied the 
whole of the enclosure," meaning the whole of 
the square enclosed. In the case in question, 
usage seems to have fixed the meaning in the 
latter of these two senses, viz., the thing en- 
closed. An envelope is not said to be the 
enclosure of the letter, but the letter is said 
to be the enclosure of the envelope. If I 
write to the Committee of Council on Educa- 
tion, I receive printed directions as to our 
correspondence, the first of which is, " Every 
letter containing enclosures should enumerate 
them specially." 

115. Clearly however, in strict propriety, 
the word ought to apply to matter enclosed 
in, and not merely loith, the letter. Bat when 
this is departed from, when we write on a 
sheet of note-paper, and speak of a drawing 
three times its size as the enclosed, or the en- 
closure of this letter, we may say that we are 
using the word letter in its wider sense, as 
meaning the envelope as it is received un- 
opened from the post. 

116. A curious extension of this license is 
sometimes found. I remember some years 
ago receiving a letter from my tailor to the 
following eflfect : — " Rev. Sir, the enclosed to 


your kind order, which hope will give satis- 
faction, and am, respectfully and obliged." 
Now " the enclosed " in this case was a suit of 
clothes, sent by coach, and arriving some two 
days after the letter, 
"who" and llT. It will be well to attempt some expla- 
nation of the usages of " who " and " ivhich,''^ 
especially in our older writers. It may per- 
haps serve to clear up a matter which may 
have perplexed some, and to show that there 
is reason and meaning, where all has appeared 
confusion and caprice. The common modern 
distinction between these two forms of the 
relative pronoun is, that "w;/io" is used of 
persons, " 2vhich " of things. And this, if 
borne in mind, will guide us safely through- 
out. It may be well to notice that what I 
am about to say does not apply to colloquial 
English ; indeed, hardly to modern English 
at all : for this reason, that now we do not 
commonly use either the one or the other of 
these pronouns, but make the more conve- 
nient one, " that,'''' do duty for both. We do 
not say, " the man who met me," nor " the 
cattle which I saw grazing," but " the man 
that met me," " the cattle that I saw." We 
must take care, however, to remember that 
which was not ahvavs accounted the neuter of 


ivho, nor is it so in grammar. Dr. Latham 
sajs : " To follow the ordinary grammarians, 
and to call which the neuter of tvho, is a 
blunder. It is no neuter at all, but a com- 
pound word." It is made up of who and like : 
and this he shows by tracing it through the 
various Gothic and German forms, till we come 
to the Scottish ichilk and the English ivhich. 

118. Both who and ivhich are in our older 
writers used of persons. When this is so, is 
there any distinction in meaning, and if so, 
what is it? I think we shall find that the 
composition of the word vjhich., out of who and 
like, will in some measure guide us to the 
answer ; and I think, without presuming to 
say that every case may be thus explained, 
that the general account of the two ways is 
this: "td'^o" merely identifies, whereas '^which'^ 
classifies. Let us quote in illustration one of 
the most important and well-known instances. 
If, in the solemn address, " Our Father 
which art in heaven," " who " had been used 
instead, then we should have been taught 
to express only the fact that HE, whom we 
address as our Father, dwelleth in heaven. 
But as the sentence now stands, if I under- 
stand it rightly, we are taught to express the 
fact that the relation of Father in which He 


stands to us is not an earthly but a heavenly- 
one ; that ^vhereas there is a fatherhood which 
is on earth, His is a Fatherhood which is in 
heaven. And herein I believe tlyit our trans- 
lators have best followed the mind of Him 
who gave us the prayer. The bare construc- 
tion of the clause in the original does not 
determine for us whether the relative pronoun 
applies to the person only of Him whom we 
address, or to His title of Father. But from 
our Lord's own use so frequently of the terra 
" your heavenly Father," I think they were 
right in fixing the reference to the relationship, 
rather than to the Person only. 
Use of 119. There is a use of the word "6m^" 


principally to be found in our provincial 

newspapers, but now and then " leaking up- 
wards" into our more permanent literature. 
It is when that conjunction is made the con- 
necting link between two adjectives which do 
not require any such disjoining. "We may 
say that a man is old, hut vigorous, because 
vigour united with age is something unex- 
pected ; but we have no right to say old hut 
respectahle, because respectability with old age 
is not something unexpected.* Even while I 

* The expression " allow me respect fuHy, but ear- 
nestly to represent to you," is objected to. Yet here 


write, ray train stops at a station on the Great 
Western Railway, where passengers are invited 
to take a trip to Glasgow, " to witness the wild 
hut grand scenery of Scotland." Now, because 
scenery is wild, there is no reason wdiy it should 
not be also grand ; nay, wdldness in scener}' is 
most usually an accompaniment of grandeur. 
Wild but not grand would be far more reason- 
able, because wildness raises an expectation of 
grandeur, w^hich the " hut " contradicts. 

1 20. A correspondent writes : " Many, espe- "as" and 
cially I think ladies, say, ' He is not as tall as 
his brother.' Am I not right in saying that 
after a neo-ative ' so ' should be used — ' He is 
not so tall as his brother' ?" Such certainly 
appears to be the usage of our language, how- 
ever difficult it may be to account for it. 
We say, " one way of speaking is as good as 
the other;" but when we deny this propo- 
sition, we are obliged to say, "one way of 
speaking is not so good as the other." So 
cannot be used in the affirmative proposition, 
nor as in the negative. Change the form of 

we seem to require the disjunctive particle. Arespect- 
.ful representation carries with it the idea of a certain 
distance and formality, with which the zeal implied in 
earnestness is at first sight inconsistent : and the dis- 
junctive particle seems to show that though the latter 
is present, the former is not forgotten. 


the sentence into one less usual and still 
allowable, " the one way of speaking is 
equally good with the other," and the sarae 
adverb will serve for both affirmative and 
negative : " the one is equally good with the 
other ;" " the one is not equally good with 
the other." 

120a. The accuracy of this rule has been 
called in question by one of my censors, and 
he gives as his example " There are few 
artists who draw horses as well as Mr. Leech " : 
in which sentence he rightly obsen-es that 
"so well" ought to have been used. But 
why ? Simply because the sentence is not 
affirmative^ as he designates it, but negative. 
There are few (^ not many), denies the 
existence of many : there are a few, affirms 
the existence of some. It never could be said 
" There are a few artists, who draw horses so 
well as Mr. Leech." His example confirms 
the rule, instead of impugning it. Carry the 
negrative a little further, and we have " There 
are no artists who draw horses so well as Mr. 
"hadra- 121. A question has been asked about the 

expressions '''■ I had rather ^"^ '-'■ I had as soon^"* 
or "as liefr What is the '■''had'''' in these 
sentences ? Is it really part of the verb 



" have'''' at all ? If it is, how do we explain 
it? We cannot use " to have rather " in any- 
other tense : it is no recognised phrase in our 
language. And therefore it has been sug- 
gested, that the expression " I had rather'''' has 
originated with erroneous filling up of the 
abbreviated Fd rather^ which is short not for 
/ had rather, but / would rather. " / would 
rather he'''' is good»English, because '-'•I would 
he " is good English ; but " I had rather he " is 
not good English, because ^'- Ihad he " is not 
good English. 

122. One word with regard to the colloquial Colloquial 

con frsc— 

contractions which I just now mentioned, tions. 
We occasionally hear some made use of, which 
cannot be defended. For instance, "/amV 
certain^'' " / aivbt going.'''' This latter, in the 
past tenses, degenerates still further into the 
mere vulgarism, " / warrit going.'''' This 
latter is heard only as a vulgarism ; but the 
other two are very frequently used, even by 
highly educated persons. The main objection 
to them is that they are proscribed by usage ; 
but exception may also be taken to them on 
their own account. A contraction must surely 
retain some trace of the resolved form from 
which it is abbreviated. What, then, is 
" ai7iH .^" It cannot be a contraction of 


*^am noty What " artiU " is contracted from 
is very plain ; it once was " are not,'''' which, 
of course, cannot be constructed with the 
first person singular. The only legitimate 
colloquial contraction of " I am not,'''' is " Pm 
not ;" " Pm not going ;" '* Tm not quite sure?"* 
The same way of contracting is used in the 
case of " are not.'''' It is usually contracted 
by attaching the verb to* the personal pro- 
noun, not by combining it with the negative 
particle. We say " You're not in time,^^ not 
"yozf anit;'''' '''' they're not coming^'' not '•''they 
arn'f' or '' ainU."* 
Feminine 123. A few remarks mav be made on the 

substan- . f c ' ■ . * 

tives. use in Lno-hsh of feminme substantives. 

Certain names of occupations and offices seem 
to require them, and others to forbid them. 
We say " emperor " and " empress ;" but we 
do not in the same sense say '•'^ governor " and 
'■'• governess.'''' In this latter case the feminine 
form has acquired a meaning of its own, and 
refuses to part with it. I remember, during 
the first weeks of our present Queen's reign, 

* A correspondent complains of the use, by some of 
our best writers, of the subjunctive "-thoic icer/," as 
equivalent to the indicative " thou waat.''^ I own I had 
not obsers^ed it. Of coiarse there can be no doubt that 
it is wrong, wherever it may occur. 


hearing a clergyman pray for " Alexandrina, 
our most gracious Queen and governess,'^'* Very 
many, indeed most names of occupations and 
offices, are common to both sexes, and it 
savours of pedantiy to attempt, by adding 
the feminine termination, to make a differ- 
ence. The description "j9^7_j/m?i," for in- 
stance, may include both men and "women ; 
yet I saw the other day advertised, "The 
AVanderings of a ^^Hgrimess,^^ (fcc. " Porte?- " 
is another of these words. When we are told 
to apply to the porter, we are not surprised 
to see " her that keeps the gate " answer to 
our knock. But in many public establish- 
ments we see the '■'' portress'''' announced as 
the person to whom we are to apply.* I 
expect we shall soon see '•' groceress and tea- 
dealeress, and licenced vendress of stamps." 
A rule reofardinor the classification of both 
sexes together is sometimes forgotten. When 
both are spoken of under one head, the mas- 
culine appellation is used. Thus, though 
some of the European rulers may be females, 
they may be correctly classified, when spoken 

* The word "portress" is legitimate enough. We 
have in Milton "the portress of hell gate." But it 
does not follow, because it is used in poetry, that we 
may use it in our common discourse. 



of altogether, under the denomination " kings.'*'' 
It has been pointed out that Lord Bacon* 
does this even in the case of two, "Ferdi- 
nand and Isabella, kings of Spain." This 
•svould hardly be said now ; and in ordinary 
language, we should perhaps rather choose 
to call the European rulers " sovereigns." 
But this is no reason why the rule should be 
forgotten, nor why sentences, when it is 
observed, should be charged with incorrect- 
ness, or altered to suit modern ears. A 
correspondent writes that his clergyman, in 
the following sentence in the prayer for the 
Queen, in the Communion service, " We are 
taught that the hearts of kings are in Thy 
rule and governance," alters the word kings 
into sovereigns. 
Pnnctua- 124. From speaking of the forms of words, 

we will come to punctuation, or stopping. I 
remember when I was young in printing, once 
correcting the punctuation of a proof-sheet, 

* A correspondent has charged me with falling into 
the blunder of calling this distinguished philosopher 
Lord Bacon, wliich he never was. Surely one who is 
contending for usage against pedantry, stands acquitted 
here. How far the title, " Lord Bacon," has prevailed, 
may be seen in the lettering of the backs of the volumes 
of the only good edition of his works, that by Heath, 
Ellis, and Spedding. 



and complaining of the liberties which had 
been taken with my manuscript. The pub- 
lisher quietly answered me, that punctuation 
was always left to the con^yoifitors. And a pre- 
cious mess they make of it. The great enemies 
to understanding anything printed in our lan- 
guage are the commas. And these are inserted 
by the compositors, without the slightest com- 
punction, on every possible occasion. Many 
words are by rule always hitched off with two 
commas ; one before and one behind ; nursed, 
as the Omnibus Company would call it. " Too " 
is one of these words ; '* however,'''* another ; 
" also,'''' another ; the sense in almost every 
such case being disturbed, if not destroyed by 
the process. I remember beginning a sentence 
with — " However true this may be." When 
it came in proof, the inevitable comma was 
after the " however,'''' thus of course making 
nonsense of my unfortunate sentence. I have 
some satisfaction in reflecting, that, in the 
course of editinor the Greek text of the New 
Testament, I believe I have destroyed more 
than a thousand commas, which prevented 
the text being properly understood. 

125. One very provoking case is that where Comma 

. 11' between two 

two adjectives come together, bclongmg to adjectives. 
the same noun-substantive. Thus, in print- 

H 2 


ing a nice young man, a comma is placed 
after nice, gi\'ing, we may observe, a very 
different sense from that intended : bringing 
before us the fact that a man is both nice 
and young, whereas the original sentence 
introduced to us a young man that was 
nice. Thus too in the expression "a great 
black dog,'''' printed without commas, every- 
body knows what we mean ; but this would 
be printed " a great, black dog." Take again 
the case where meaning is intensified by 
adjectives being repeated — as in " the wide 
wide world,'''' " the deep deep sea^ Such 
expressions you almost invariably find printed 
" the wide^ wide world,'''' " the deep, deep sea,^'' 
thereby making them, if judged by any rule 
at all, absolute nonsense 
Too few 126. Still, though too many commas are bad, 

too few are not without inconvenience also. 
I saw the other day a notice of "the Society 
for Promoting the Observance of the Lord's- 
day which was founded in 1831," giving the 
notion that the dag, not the society, was 
founded in that year. Had the date been 
1631, instead of 18, an awkward interpre- 
tation might have been possible. 

127. I take the following, verbatim and 
punctuatim, from a religious newspaper of 



this present year : " Education. — In a 
Ladies' School conducted on Evangelical 
principles about nine in number, good in- 
struction is given, &c." 

128. While I am upon stops, a word isxotesof 

. . admiration. 

necessary concerning notes of admiration. 
A note of admiration consists, as we know, 
of a point with an upright line suspended 
over it, strongly suggestive of a gentleman 
jumping oif the ground with amazement. 
These shrieks, as they have been called, are 
scattered up and down the page by the com- 
positors without mercy. If one has written 
the words " sir,'''' as they ought to be 
written, and are written in Genesis xliii. 20, 
viz., with the plain capital " " and no stop, 
and then a comma after " ASir," our friend the 
compositor is sure to write " Oh " with a 
shriek (!) and to put another shriek after 
" Sir.'''* Use, in writing, as few as possible of 
these nuisances. They always make the sense 
weaker, where you can possibly do without 
them. The only case I know of where they 
are really necessary, i j where the language is 
pure exclamation, as in " How beautiful is 
night !" or, " that I might find him !" 

129. The very simple and intelligible word "centre." 
^^ centre"" comes in for a good deal of mal- 


treatment in our days. Centre is from the 
Greek word '•'■ Keniron^'' meaning merely a 
point : the point of a needle, or of a sting, 
or of anything else : and hence is used in 
geometry to denote that point round which a 
circle or any other symmetrical curve is 
drawn. And in accordance with this its ori- 
ginal meaning ought its use always to be : a 
centre should always designate a point, never 
a line, nor, except as presently defined, a 
middle space. But we see this often departed 
from. " A gangway will be left down the 
centre of the room," is a clear case of such 
departure. I do not of course mean to advo- 
cate absolute strictness in this or in any other 
usage. Accuracy is one thing, punctilious- 
ness is another. The one should be always 
observed, the other always avoided. While 
I should take care not to say that I walked 
up and down the centre of the lawn, I should 
not object to say that there is a large bed 
of geraniums in the centre^ although strictly 
speaking the centre of the lawm is in the bed, 
not the bed in the centre.* 

* A correspondent informs me, that a parliamentary 
notice to landowners, which has been in nse for the last 
seventeen years, and is issued to the number of hun- 
dreds of tliousands at once, contains the words ' ' within 


130. And in the figurative use of this 
word, and of all words, intelligent common 
sense, rather than punctiliousness, ought to 
be our guide. Centre^ and its adjective 
central, are often used in speaking of objects 
of thought, as well as of sight. Let it be 
borne in mind, when this is done, that these 
words apply only to a principal object round 
which others group themselves, and not to 
one which happens to be pre-eminent amongst 
others. To say that some conspicuous j)erson 
in an assembly was the centre of atti'action, is 
perfectly correct ; but to say that some 
subject of conversation, merely because it 
happened to occupy more of the time than 
other subjects, was the central topic of the 
evening, is incorrect and unmeasing. 

131. Ought we to write by and by, or by "by and 


and bye ? by the by, or by the bye ? There is 
a tendency to add a vowel, by way of giving 
empjiasis in pronunciation, when a preposition 
is used as an adverb. Thus " too " is only 
the preposition " to," emphasized ; a " bye " 

eleven yards, or thereabouts, of the centre-line of the 
proposed work." Tliis is not absolutely wrong: for the 
centre-line is the line which passes through the centre, 
as the Chatham-line is the line which passes through 


ball, at cricket, is only a ball that runs by. 
In this latter case the added '' e " is universal : 
but not so in by-play^ by-end^ which are 
sometimes spelt with it and sometimes without 
it. And we never add it when " by " is used 
as an adverb in construction in a sentence, as 
in passing by. This being so, it is better, 
perhaps, to confine this way of spelling to 
the only case where it seems needed, the 
bye ball^ and to write " by and by^^ " by 
the by.'^ 
"endeavour 132. A mistake is very generally made by 

ourselves.' _ .* o i/ 

our clergy in reading the collect for the 
second Sunday after Easter. We there pray, 
with reference to Our Lord's death for us, 
and His holy example, "that we may thank- 
fully receive that his inestimable benefit, and 
also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the 
blessed steps of his most holy life." This is 
often read with an emphasis on the word 
" ourselves^'* as if it were in the nominative 
case, and to be distinguished from some other 
person. But no other persons have been men- 
tioned ; and the sense thus becomes confused 
for the hearer. The fact is, that " ourselves " 
is not in the nominative case at all, but in 
the accusative after the verb *•'■ endeavour,^^ 
which at the time of the compiling of our 


Prayer-book was used as a reflective verb. 
To endeavour inyself, is to consider myself 
in duty bound. That this is so, appears 
clearly from the answer given in the Ordina- 
tion service, where the Bishop asks, " Will 
you be diligent in prayers and in reading of 
the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as 
help to the knowledge of the same . . . ?" 
And the candidate replies, " I will endea- 
vour myself so to do, the Lord being my 

133. The usaore of the verb to mistahe is '• to be mis- 

* taken." 

somewhat anomalous. Its etymology seems 
simple enough — to take amiss. And by the 
analogy of " misunderstand," " misinterpret," 
" mislead," " misinform," *' miscalculate," it 
ought to be simply an active verb, as in the 
phrases, " you mistook my meaning," " he 
had mistaken the way." This would give as 
its passive use, " my meaning was mistaken 
by you." But our English usage is different; 
we have these phrases, it is true, but wc 
far more commonly use the verb in the pas- 
sive, to carry what should be its active mean- 
ing. To he mistaken is not, with us, to be 
misapprehended by another, but to commit a 
mistake oneself. This is a curious transla- 
tion of meaning, but it is now rooted in the 


language and become idiomatic. " I thought 
so, but I was mistaken," is universally said, 
not '• I mistook." We expect to hear " you 
are mistaken," and should be surprised at 
hearing asserted " you are mistaking," or 
'*you mistake," unless followed by an accu- 
sative, " the meaning," or " me." When we 
hear the former of these, we begin to con- 
sider whether we were right or wrong ; when 
the latter, we at once take the measure of 
our friend, as one who has not long escaped 
from the study of the rules of the lesser 
grammarians, by which, and not by the 
usages of society, circumstances have com- 
pelled him to learn his language, 
"good 134. A correspondent asks me, good looking 

lookins*' or 

"well look- or loell looking ? Here is another instance of 
idiom versus accuracy. x\nd idiom decidedly 
has it. To speak of a well-looking man would 
be to make oneself ridiculous : all usage is 
against the word. But, at the same time, to 
be good looking is not to look good. It is, in 
one sense, to look well ; or, if we will, to have 
good looks. So that the whole matter seems 
to be left to usage, which in this case is 

"latter," of 135. One point made very much of by the 

more than 

two ; '• last." precisians is, the avoiding of the use of " latter 

of only two. 


when we have spoken of more than tv/o 
things, and of "last^^ when we have spoken 
of only two. Is this founded in any neces- 
sity or propriety of the laws of thought; or 
is it a mere arbitrary regulation laid down 
by persons who know little and care little 
about those laws? 

136. Let us inquire into the matter. The 
notion is, that in speaking of two things, we 
can have only positive and comparative ; that 
for a superlative we require three or more ; 
and when we have three or more, we must 
use the superlative. Thus if I speak of two 
invasions of Great Britain, I must call the 
earlier the former, not the Jirst, and the se- 
cond the latter, not the last. But if I speak 
of three invasions, I must call the third, in re- 
ferring to it, the last, not the latter. Is there 
reason in this ? Let us look at it in this light. 
Of two invasions, the earlier is undoubtedly 
the Jirsf, the latter the second. Now '■'■first'''' is 
a superlative ; and if of two, one is designated 
by a superlative, why not the other ? 

137. Still, this is not digging to the root 
of the matter ; it is only arguing from the 
acknowledged use of a form in one case, to 
its legitimate use in an analoj^ous one. Let 
us take it in another point of view. " First " 


is unavoidably used of that one in a series 
^Yith which we begin, whatever be the number 
which follow ; whether many or few. Why 
should not " last " be used of that one in a 
series with which we end, whatever be the 
number which preceded, whether many or 
few ? The second invasion, when we spoke of 
only two, was undoubtedly the last men- 
tioned; and surely therefore may be spoken 
of in referring back to it, as the last, without 
any violation of the laws of thought. 

138. Nor does the comparative of neces- 
sity suggest that only two are concerned, 
though it may be more natural to speak 
of the greatest of more than two, not of the 
greater. For that which is greatest of any 
number, is greater than the rest, 
"superior," 139. There is an expression creeping: into 

"inferior." . ^ ... 

general use which cannot be justified in 
grammar, a " superior man ;" " a very inferior 
person." We all know what is meant : and 
a certain sort of defence may be set up for 
it by calling it elliptical : by saying that the 
comparatives are to be filled up by inserting 
"to most men," or the like. But with all its 
convenience, and all the defence which can 
be set up for it, this way of speaking is not 
desirable ; and if followed out as a precedent, 


cannot but vulgarize and deteriorate our 

140. We seem rather unfortunate in our " talented." 
designations for our men of ability. For 
another term by which we describe them, 

" talented,^'' is about as bad as possible. What 
is it? It looks like a participle. From what 
verb ? Fancy such a verb as " to talent /" 
Coleridge somewhere cries out ao-ainst this 
newspaper word, and says, Imagine other par- 
ticiples formed by this analogy, and men being 
said to be pennied, shillinged, or pounded. 
He perhaps forgot that, by an equal abuse, 
men are said to be '■'■ moneyed"' men, or as 
we sometimes see it spelt (as if the word itself 
were not bad enough without making it 
worse by false orthography), "momec?." 

141. Another formation of this kind, "gifted." 
"^z/iferf," is at present very much in vogue. 
Every man whose parts are to be praised, is 

a gifted author, or speaker, or preacher. Nay, 
sometimes a very odd transfer is made, and 
the pen with which the author writes is said 
to be " gifted ^^^ instead of himself. 

142. Exception has been taken to what has "to leave," 


been called the neuter use of the verb to 
leave : " I shall not leave before December 1." 
But it is not correct to describe this as a 


neuter use; it is rather the absolute use. 
The verb is still active, but the object is 
suppressed. Thus, if there are three persons 
in a room, one reading the Bible, another the 
newspaper, and the third a review, I say 
that they are all reading, without depriving 
the verb of its active force ; using it as an 
absolute predicate applicable to them all. Thus 
too, if of three persons one is leaving his own 
home to-morrow, another a friend's house, and 
the third an hotel, I may say that they are all 
leaving to-morrow. And this absolute usage 
is perfectly legitimate where one person only 
is concerned. " I shall not read this morning, 
but I shall write." " It is my intention to 
leave when my lease is up." How far it 
may be more or less elegant under given cir- 
cumstances to speak thus, is another question, 
which can onlv be decided when those circum- 
stances are known ; but of the correctness of 
the usage I imagine there can be no doubt, 
"could not 143. Connected with the last are, or may 


seem to be, certain elliptical usages which can- 
not be similarly defended. Thus when the 
object has been to visit a friend, or to attain 
a certain point, we sometimes hear the excuse 
for failure thus expressed, " I meant to come 
to you," — or, " I fully intended to be there ;'* 


" but / couldnH get,^'' The full expression 
would in this case be, "I couldn't get to 
you ;" or, *' I couldn't get there." But the 
verb " to get " is used in so many meanings, 
that it is hardly fit for this elliptical position. 
Besides that the sentence ends inelegantly 
and inharmoniously, an ambiguity is sug- 
gested : " couldn't get what ?" a horse ? or 
time ? or money to pay the fare ? or some 
one to show the way ? 

144. Another word objectionably thus used "does not 


is the verb " to belong.'*'' " Is Miss A. coming 
to the Amateur Concert to-night ?" " No : 
she does not belong ;" meaning, does not 
belong to the Society. And then perhaps 
we are told that "though she does not 
belong this year, she means to belong next." 
Here again we may say that belong is a verb 
of so wide a signification, that it will hardly 
admit of being thus detached from its acci- 
dents, and used absolutely and generally. 

144a. I am reminded by a valued corre- to "belong 
spondent, of another use of the verb " to be- 
long,^"* already familiar to me, as having been 
long resident in the north-midland counties. 
" We have," he says, " in these parts a provin- 
cial usage of the word " belong ;" as, " belong to 
Halifax," " belong to Leeds :" or, more com- 


moiily, " belong Halifax," " belong Leeds :" 
meaning, live there. The late Mr. F. W., one 
of the largest proprietors of land in York- 
shire, and M. P. for the vet undivided county 
— and, let me add, a wise and munificent 
friend to the Church, — was withal so little 
lavish on his person, that he might easily pass 
for a very humble farmer. He was one day 
accosted on the roadside by two stran<xers in 
a gig on their way to 'NVighill, near York. 
" My man, do you belong Wighill ?" He 
answered, " No, Sirs, Wighill belongs to me.*' 
"to pro- 145. The verb to "yjroy 7-655," is challenged 

by one of my friends as a modern Ameri- 
canism. This is not strictly accurate. Shak- 
speare uses it in King John, act v. sc. 2 : 

" Let me wipe off this honourable dew, 
That silverly doth progress on thy cheeks."* 

But you will observe that the line requires 
the verb to be pronounced progress, not pro 

* I mention, as in courtesy bound, an account of this 
construction which has been sent me by a correspond- 
ent anxious to vindicate Shakspeare from having used 
a modem vulgarism. He would understand "doth 
progress" as "doeth progress," the latter word being 
a substantive. Surely, he can hardly be in earnest. [I 
am surprised to see this advocated in the very sensible 
little English Grammar of Mr. Higginson. Aug. 1S64.] 



gress, so that this is perhaps hardly a case in 
point, except as to the word, a verb formed on 
the noun progress, 

146. Milton also uses such a verb, in the Passage 
magnificent peroration of his " Treatise of Milton. 
Reformation in Ennrland." I cannot forbear 
citing the whole passage, as it may be a relief 
to my readers and to myself in the midst of 
these verbal enquiries : 

"Then amidst the Hymns and Hallelujahs 
of saints, some one may perhaps be heard 
offering at high strains in new and lofty mea- 
sures, to sing and celebrate thy divine mer- 
cies, and marvellous judgments in this land 
throughout all ages ; whereby this great and 
warlike nation, instructed and inured to the 
fervent and continual practice of Truth and 
Righteousness, and casting far from her the 
rags of her old vices, may press on hard to 
that high and happy Emulation, to be found 
the soberest, wisest, and most Christian people 
at that day, when Thou the Eternal and 
shortly expected King, shalt open the clouds 
to judge the several kingdoms of the world, 
and distributing national honours and rewards 
to religious and just commonwealths, shalt put 
an end to all earthly Tyrannies, proclaiming 
thy universal and mild Monarchy through 


heaven and earth. Where they undoubtedly, 
that by their labours, counsels and prayers, 
have been earnest for the common good of 
Religion aud their country, shall receive above 
the inferior orders of the Blessed, the regal 
addition of Principalities, Legions, and Thrones 
into their glorious Titles, and, in superemi- 
nence of beatifick vision, progressing the date- 
less and irrevoluble circle of Eternity, shall 
clasp inseparable Hands with Joy and Bliss, in 
over measure for ever." 

147. It may be noticed again that Milton's 
use of the verb is not exactly that which is 
become common now. He seems to make it 
equivalent to " moving along^"* or " moving 
throughout^'* in an active sense. These fa- 
voured ones are to progress the circle of Eter- 
nity, i. f., I suppose, to revolve for ever round 
and round it. The present usage makes the 
verb neuter ; to i^rogress meaning to advance, 
to make progress. I can hardly say I feel 
much indigrnation against the word, thus used. 
We seem to want it ; and if we do, and it 
does not violate any known law of formation, 
by all means let us have it. True, it is the 
first of its own family ; we have not yet 
formed aggress, regress, egress, or retrogress* 
* One of m3- Censors has found some of these words 


into verbs ; but we have clone in substance 
tbe same tiling, by having admitted long ago 
the verbs su(fgest, digest^ project, object^ reject, 
eject ; for all these are formed from the same 
part of the original Latin verbs, as this ^'■pro- 
gress " on which "vve have been spe^ting. 

148. In treating of this verb to '■'■ progress ^^ Xounsmade 

, -IT •! ^^'^^ verbs. 

a correspondent notices that there prevails a 
tendency to turn nouns into verbs : " The 
ship remained to coal ;" " the church is being 
pewed :''"' "he was prevailed on to lucid the 
movement." I do not see that we can object 
to this tendency in general, seeing that it has 
grown with the growth of our language, and 
under due regulation is one of the most 
obvious means of enrichinsc it. Verbs thus 
formed will carry themselves into use, in spite 
of the protests of the purists. Some years 

set down as English verbs in the folio edition of Bailey's 
Universal Dictionary, published in 1755. But there 
is as wide a difference between dictionary words and 
English words, as between vocabulary French and 
spoken French. We might in a few minutes find a 
list of dictionary words which would introduce us to 
some strange acquaintances. T\'hat do we think of 
"abarcy," "aberuncate," "abolishable," "abstringe," 
"abstrudc," "acervate," "acetosity," "adjugate," 
"admetiate," "adminicle," "advolation," "adus- 
tible," &c., &c. Thousands of words in the Diction- 
aries are simply Latin, made English in form, without 
any authority for their use. 

I 2 


ago, precise scholars used to exclaim against 
the verb " to experience ;" and a very ugly 
candidate for admission into the language it 
was. Milton introduced its participle ^vhen 
he Avrote, " He through the armed files Darts 
his experienced eye." Still, as we know in 
the case of " talented " and " moneyed,^'' the 
participle may be tolerated long before the 
verb is invented : and no instance of the verb 
*' to exjycrience " occurs till quite recently. 
But all attempts to exclude it 7iow would be 
quite incifectual.* 
"to treat 149. To treat of, or to treat? Plainly, 

treat?" wluch we plcosc. To treat is to handle, to 
have under treatment, to discuss. The verb 
may be used with an object following it, to 

* A correspondent referred to me the question whether 
in Milton's line, 

" Then let the pealing organ blow," 

the verb "i^oeo" is rightly used. The organ, it was 
urged, is blown : and it might as well be said that the 
fire " blows,'' -when it is blown. 

But I believe Milton to be quite correct. The whole 
action of the organ is, to produce sound by bloxcivg 
into the pipes : and this it is, rather than the filling 
the bellows with wind, that is meant. The action of 
fire is, not to blow, but to bum : wheu it is blown, it 
hums: but when the organ is blown, it, by aid of its 
valves, opened by the pressure on the keys, blows^ and 
produces music. 


*^ treat a subject :^^ or it maybe used abso- 
lutely, to '■Hreat concerning,^'* or " o/"," a subject. 
It is one of those veiy many cases so little 
understood by the layers down of precise 
rules, where writers and speakers are left to 
choose, as the humour takes them, between 
different ways of expression. 

149a. And I may once for all notice a Fallacy:— of 

two ways of 

fallacious way of arffuino- into which the expression, 
sciolists who would legislate for our language wrouj,'. 
are continually betrayed. It consists in 
assuming that, of two modes of expression, if 
one be shown to be right, the other must 
necessarily be wrong. Whereas very often 
the varying expressions are equally legitimate, 
and each of them full of interest, as bearing 
traces of the different sources from which our 
language has sprung. 

150. There is apiece of affectation becoming "the book 


sadly common among our younger clergy, "the city 
which I had already marked for notice, when 
I received a letter, from which the following 
is an extract : — " I wish to call your atten- 
tion to the ignorance which is sometimes 
exhibited by clergy and others of the true 
meaning of the preposition in such expres- 
sions as 'the city of Canterbury,' 'the play 
of " Hamlet." ' We sometimes hear it pro- 


claimed from the desk, * Here beginneth 
the first chapter of the book Genesis :' 
and we read in parochial documents of 
* the parish of St. George,' ' the parish of 
St. Mary,' instead * of St. George's,' « of St. 
Mary's,' <fec." 

151. I believe the excuse, if it can be 
called one, set up for this violation of usage 
is, that " the book of Genesis " and " the book 
of Daniel " cannot both be right, because the 
former was not written by Genesis, as the 
latter was by Daniel. But, as my corres- 
pondent says, this simply betrays ignorance of 
the meanings of the preposition " o/l" It is 
used, in designations of this kind, in three 
different senses : 1. To denote authorship, as 
^'■the hook of Daniel ;'''' 2. To denote subjectr 
matter, as " the Jirst book of Kings ;" 3. As 
a note of apposition, signifying, " which is," or 
" which is called," as " the hook of Genesis,''^ 
" of Exodus^'''' (fcc. This last usage meets us 
at every turn ; and the pedant who ignores 
it in the reading desk, must, in consistency, 
drop it everywhere else. Imagine his letter 
describing his summer holiday : " I left the 
city London, and passed through the county 
Kent, leaving the realm England at the town 
Dover, and entering the empire France at the 


town Calais, on my way to the Republic 

152. I may remark in passing, that here 
again usage comes in with its prescriptive 
laws, and prevents the universal application 
of rules. While we always say the " city of 
Cairo," not "the city Cairo," we never say 
" the river of Nile," but always " the river 
Nile." So too " the city of London," but " the 
river Thames." 

153. It seems astonishing that many of our "reverend," 
writers should not yet be clear m their dis- verent." 
tinctive use of "revere?id^" and " veveventy I 

saw lately a description of a certain person as 
being "unintentionally irreverend'." The 
writer (or printer) of this forgot that " reverent" 
(reverenSj-eniis) is the subjective word, de- 
scribing the feeling within a man as its sub- 
ject, whereas " revereiid " {reverendus) is the 
objective word, describing the feeling with 
which a man is regarded, — of which he is the 
object from without. Dean Swift might be 
"very reverend," by common courtesy; but 
he was certainly not "very reverent" in his 
conduct or in his writings. 

154. A few words more about these subjective Subjective 

and objer- 

and objective words. It has been the fashion uve wonis. 
♦ See note E, at the end of the volume 


to laugh at and decry these terms, subjective 
and objective. I have generally found that 
those who do so are wanting in appreciation 
of the distinction which these words are 
intended to convey, and which can hardly be 
conveyed but by their use. Take the case where 
one and the same word is used in both senses. 
We say "a fearful heart," and we say "a 
fearful height." la the former phrase we 
Ms,^ fearful in its subjective sense, as describing 
a quality inherent in the subject of the 
sentence ; in the latter phrase, we use fearful 
in its objective sense, as describing an effect 
produced on those who are the objects con- 
templated. How otherwise than by the use 
of these terms are we clearly and shortly to 
indicate this difference ? Other instances of this 
double use of one and the same word may be 
found in " a hopeful spirit," " a hopeful youth," 
— " a joyful multitude," " a joyful occasion ;" 
and an example of the distinction in the use 
of two w^ords, in the adjectives " taW (sub- 
jective, — high with reference to himself as 
compared with others) and " high " (objec- 
tive, contemplated as an object from with- 
"or" and 155. A good deal of confusion is pre- 

negative valent in the usages of '*or' and *■'' nor^^ in 



a negative sentence. When I wrote, in the 
last paragraph but one, " he was certainly not 
very reverent in his conduct or in his writ- 
ings," was I right or wrong? Ought I to 
have said, "he was not very reverent in his 
conduct nor in his writings?" We may 
regard this sentence in two ways, which may 
be represented by the two following modes of 
punctuation: 1. "He was not very reverent 
in his conduct, or in his writings." 2. " He 
was not very reverent, in his conduct or in 
his writings." According to the former punc- 
tuation, "or" is wrong; it should be "nor." 
But observe that thus we get a somewhat 
awkward elliptical sentence : " He was not 
very reverent in his conduct, nor (was he very 
reverent) in his writings," In the second 
form of the sentence, "or" is right, and " nor'''' 
would be wronor. This will be evident in a 
moment by filling up the sentence with the 
other alternative particle, " He was not very 
reverent, either in his conduct or in his 
writings ;" not, " He was not very reverent, 
neither in his conduct, nor in his writings." 

156. We may, if we will, strike out the 
negative altogether from the part of the 
sentence containing the verb, and attach it 
entirely to the alternative clauses. But in 


this case it is usual to place those clauses 
before the predicative portion of the sentence : 
"neither in his conduct, nor in his writings 
was he very reverent." 
Elliptical 15 v. As I have been speaking of an elliptical 


sentence, I may remark that it is astonishing 
what an amount^^f ellipsis the English ear 
will tokrate : in other words, how great an 
effort the mind of a hearer will make in 
supplying that which is suppressed. This 
extends sometimes even to chanorinor the 
construction, and turning affirmative into 
negative, tacitly and unconsciously, as the 
sentence falls upon the eye or ear. A remark- 
able example of this occurs in one of the most 
solemn prayers in our English Communion 
Service : " We do not presume to come to 
this Thy Table, most merciful Lord, trusting 
in our own righteousness; but {loe do presume 
to come, trusting) in thy manifold and great 
mercies." Put this admirable sentence into 
the hands of our ordinary rhetoricians, and it 
would be utterly marred. The apparently 
awkward ellipsis would be removed thus: 
"We presume to come to this Thy Table, 
trusting, not in our own righteousness, but in 
thy manifold and great mercies." But at the 
same time, the whole character of the sentence 


and of the prayer would be altered. Who 
does not see, that by the openmg words, " We 
do not presume," the key-note of the whole 
prayer is struck — the disclaiming of presump- 
tion founded on our own righteousness ? It 
was worth any subsequent halting of the 
sentence in mere accuracy of construction, to 
secure this plain declaration of the spirit in 
which the prayer was about to be made. 

158. And this leads us to a rule which we General rule 

in such 

should do well to follow in all such cases. To cases. 
secure the right sense being given, and the 
right emphasis laid, is the first thing : not to 
satisfy the rules of the rhetoricians. Many a 
sentence, w^hich the mere rhetorician would 
pronounce faulty in arrangement, does its 
work admirably, and has done it for centuries : 
let him correct it and re-arrange it, and it 
will do that work no more. Its strong 
emphasis will have disappeared: its nervous 
homeliness will have departed, and it will 
sink down into vapid commonplace. 

159. Let us now enter on this matter some- Arrantre- 

, . , . naent of 

what more m detail. The one rule which is words in 


supposed by the ordinary rhetoricians to regu- 
late the arrangement of words in sentences, is 
this : that " those parts of a sentence which are 
most closely connected in their meaning^ should 


he as closely as possible connected in position ;" 
or, as it is propounded by Dr. Blair, "yl 
capital rule in the arrangement of sentences is 
that the words or members most nearly related 
should be placed in the sentence as near to each 
other as j^ossible, so as to make their mutual 
relation clearly appear y • 

Ordinary 160. Now doubtless this rule is, in the 

main, and for general guidance, a good and 
useful one: indeed, so plain to all, that it 
surely needed no inculcating. But there are 
more things in the English language than 
seem to have been dreamt of in the philoso- 
phy of the rhetoricians. If this rule were uni- 
formly applied, it would break down the force 
and the living interest of style in any English 
writer, and reduce his matter, as we just now- 
said, to a dreary and dull monotony. For it 
is in exceptions to its application, that almost 
all vigour and character of style consist. Of 
this I shall give abundant illustration by-and- 
by. Meantime let me make some remarks 
on two very important matters in the con- 
struction of sentences : the requirements of 
emphasis, and the requirements oi parenthesis ; 
neither of which are taken into account by 
the ordinary rule. 

Emphasis 161. Emphasis means the stress, or force of 


intonation, which the intended sense requires requires its 

1 1 • T • 1 1 . violation, 

to be laid on certain words, or changes, in a 
sentence. Very often (not always) we can 
indicate this by the form and arrangement of 
the sentence itself. Some languages have far 
greater capacities this way than our own ; but 
we are able commonly to do it sufficiently for 
the careful and intelligent reader. 

162. Now how is this done? A sentence 
arranged according to the rule above cited, sim- 
ply conveys the meaning of its words in their 
ordinary and straightforward construction ; 
and in English, owing to the difficulty, often 
felt, of departing from this arrangement, we 
must very generally be contented with it, at 
the risk of our words not conveying the full- 
ness of the meaning which we intended. For 
let me explain, that whenever we wish to 
indicate that a stress is to be laid on a certain 
word, or clause, in a sentence, we must do it 
by taking that word or that clause out of its 
natural place which it would hold by the 
above rule, and putting it into some more 
prominent one. A substantive, for example, 
governed by a verb, is in a subordinate 
position to that verb; the mind of the 
reader is aiTestcd by the verb, rather than 
by the substantive ; so that if for any rea- 


son we wish to make the substantive pro- 
minent, we must provide some other place 
for it than next to the verb which governs 
in the case 163. Take, as an example, the words " Ae 

of words; 

restored me to mine office ;" where the words are 
arranged in accordance with the ordinary law, 
and the idea expressed is the simple one of 
restoration to office. But suppose a distinction 
is to be made between the narrator, who had 
been restored to office, and another man, who 
had been very diflferently treated. Of course 
we might still observe the nile, and say " He 
restored me to mine office, and he hanged 
him ;" but the sentence becomes thus (and it 
is to this that I request the reader's attention) 
a very tame one, not expressing the distinction 
in itself, nor admitting of being so read as to 
express it sharply and decisively. Xow, let 
us violate the rule, and see how the sentence 
reads: "J/e he restored ztnto mine office., and 
him he hanged. ''"' Thus wrote our translators 
of Genesis (xli. 13), and they arranged the 
words riofhtlv. No reader, be his intelliorence 
ever so little, can help reading this sentence 
as it ought to be read. 

164. And let there be no mistake about 
this beino: a violation of the rule. The words 


nearest connected are " restored,^'' and " me," 
which it governs : " hanged,^'' and " him^'' 
which it governs. When I take " 7?ie" out of 
its place next '■'• restored, ^^ and begin the sen- 
tence with it, letting the pronoun " 7i(?" come 
between them, I do most distinctly violate 
the rule, that those words which are most 
nearly connected in the sense should also be 
most nearly connected in the arrangement. 
I have purposely chosen this first instance of 
the simplest possible kind, to make the matter 
clear as we advance into it. Let us take 
another. St. Peter (Acts ii. 23) says to the 
Jews, speaking of our Lord, " Him, being 
delivered by the determinate counsel and 
foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by 
wicked hands have crucified and slain." Here 
we have the pronoun ^^ Him" placed first in 
the sentence, and at a considerable distance 
from the verbs that govern it, with the clause, 
" being delivered by the determinate counsel 
and foreknowledge of God," inserted between. 
Yet, who does not see that the whole force of 
that which was intended to be conveyed by 
the sentence is thus gained, and could not 
otherwise be gained? Arranged according 
to the common rule, the sentence would have 
been, "Ye have taken Him, being delivered 



by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge 
of God, and by wicked hands have crucified 
and slain Him ;" and the whole force and 
point would have been lost, 
andparcn- 165. And as this necessity for brimming 

thesis, in ^ ^ _ ^ *" 

the case of into promincncc affects the position of words 


in sentences, so does it also that of clauses. 
A clause is often subordinate in the construc- 
tion to some word or some other clause ; 
while it is the object of the writer to bring 
the subordinate, not the principal, clause into 
prominence. And then, as we saw with 
regard to words just now, the clause which is 
inferior in constructive importance is brought 
out and transposed, so that the readers 
attention may be arrested by it. Or perhaps 
the writer feels the necessitv of noticing: 
as he passes on, certain particuhirs which will 
come in flatly, and spoil the balance of the 
sentence, if reserved till their proper place. 
Such passing notices arc called "/)arenMfse5," 
from a Greek word, meaning insertion by the 
way ; and every such insertion is a violation 
of the supposed universal rule of position. 

166. Thus, for example, I am narrating a 
circumstance which, when it happened, ex- 
cited my astonishment Undoubtedly the 
natural order of constructinor the sentence 


would be to relate what happened first, and 
my surprise at it afterwards. " I was looking 
at a man walking on the bank of the river, 
when he suddenly turned about, and plunged 
in, to my great surprise." But who does not 
see the miserable way in which the last clause 
drags behind, and loses all force ? We there- 
fore take this clause out of its place, and 
insert it before that to which it applies, and 
with which it ouofht to be constructed : we 
word the sentence thus : " I was lookinof at a 
man walking on the bank of the rive-i-, when, 
to my great surprise, he suddenly turned 
round, and plunged in." I need not further 
illustrate so common a transposition : I will 
only say that it produces instances of violation 
of the supposed rule of arrangement in almost 
every extant page of good English ; and in 
common conversation, every day, and all day 

167. Sometimes these insertions are such, 
obvious interruptions to the construction, that 
they are marked off by brackets, and it is 
thus made evident that the sentence is in- 
tended to flow on as if they did not exist; 
but far more frequently they are without any 
such marks, and the common sense of the 
reader is left to separate them off for himself. 


It is impossible to write lucidly or elegantly 
without the use of these parenthetical clauses. 
Care ought of course to be taken that they 
be not so inserted as to mislead the reader 
by introducing the possibility of constructing 
the sentence otherwise than as the writer 
intended. But at the same time it may be 
fearlessly stated, that not one of our best 
writers has ever been minutely scrupulous on 
this point : and that there does not exist in 
our language one great work in prose or in 
poetry, in which may not be found numerous 
instances of possible misconstruction arising 
from this cause. And this has not been from 
carelessness, but because the writer was 
intent on expressing his meaning in good 
manly English, and was not anxious as to 
the faults whi»h carping and captious critics 
might find with his style. Lord Kames gives 
a rule that " a circumstance ought never to he 
placed between two capital members of a sen- 
tence : or if so p)loccd (I suppose he means, if 
it be so 2)laced), the first luord in the consequent 
member should be one that cannot connect it 
with what precedes^"* 

168. Any one on the look out for misun- 
derstanding may convince himself by trial, 
that there is hardly a page in any English 


book which will not furnish him with instances 
of violation of this rule. 

169. Let my examples begin at home. One Examples, 
of my censors quoted as faulty in this respect 
the following sentence, which occurred in these 
notes : I said that certain persons " fall, from 
their ignorance, into absurd mistakes." The 
parenthetical clause here is " from their igno- 
rance." My censor would amend it thus — 
" certain persons, in consequence of their igno- 
rance, fall into absurd mistakes." Now this 
is not what I wanted to say ; at least it is a 
blundering and roundabout way of expressing 
it. The purpose is, to bring the fact stated 
into prominence : and this is done by making 
the verb "/aZ^ " immediately follow iis sub- 
ject, '"'■ certain persons.'''^ According to the 
proposed arrangement, it is the fact of what is 
about to be stated being a consequence of 
their ignorance, which is put into the place of 
prominence and emphasis. Very well, then : 
having stated that they/aZ/, and being about 
to say into what, it is convenient, in order to 
keep the sentence from dragging a compara- 
tively unimportant clause at its end, to bring 
in that clause, containing the reason of the 
fall, immediately after the verb itself. To 

my mind, the clause, in spite of the 

K 2 


possible ambiguity, reads far better with 
''''from " than with " in consequence of^'' which 
istoo heavy and lumbering. The '■'' possibiliUj 
of a ludicrous interpretation " which my censor 
speaks of — the falling from ignorance as a 
man falls from grace, or falls from virtue, 
seems to me to be effectually precluded in the 
mind of any man who happens to remember 
that ignorance is neither a grace nor a virtue. 
Reallv, we do not write for idiots : and it 
must require, to speak in the genteel lan- 
guage which some of my correspondents up- 
hold, a most abnormal elongation of the 
auricular appendages, for a reader to have 
susfofcsted to his mind a fall from the sublime 
height of ignorance down into the depth of a 

l70. There are one or two more expres- 
sions of mine which have been found fault 
with, well worth noticing for the illustrations 
whiiJi they will furnish on matters connected 
with our present subject. There has been 
quoted with disapprobation a sentence of 
mine in paragraph 2 of these notes, which ori- 
ginally stood thus : " Would have been broken 
to pieces in a deep rut, or come to grief in 
a bottomless swamp " It is said that this 
can onlv be filled in thus, " Would have 


been broken to pieces, or would have 

been come to grief in a bottomless swamp :" 

" for," it is added, " a j^art of a complex 

tense means nothing without the rest of the 

tense." That is, I suppose, the whole of the 

auxiliary verbs which belong to the first verb 

in a sentence must also belong to all other 

verbs which are coupled to that first verb. 

Now, is this so ? I do not find that our best 

writers observe any such rule. In Deut. vi. 

11, Israel is admonished, '''■When thou shalt 

have eaten and he full^ beware lest thou forget 

the LordP We all know that this means : 

" When thou shalt have eaten and shalt be 

full." But, according to my censor, it must 

be filled up, "When thou shalt have eaten 

and shalt have be full." 

I7l. You might, by applying to any chapter From Scrip- 
in the Bible the same treatment of which I 

have just been giving examples, show it to be 
full of ambiguities, which no one in all these 
generations has ever found out. Take exam- 
ples from one chapter, Acts xxii. In verse 4, 
I read, " And I persecuted this loay unto the 
death.'''* This violates the supposed law of 
arrangement, and falls under the charge of 
ambiguity. The gospel might, according to 
these critics, be understood from it to be a 



of our au- 
version : 

way unto death instead of a way unto life. 
Take again verse 29, " Then they departed from 
him which should have examined him.'''* Now 
we all know what this means. It is a more 
neat way of expressing what would be the 
regularly arranged sentence, " Then they which 
should have examined him departed from himy 
But here again the captious and childish critic 
may find ambiguity — " Then they departed — 
from him which should have examined him." 
I must not, however, forget that some of my 
correspondents find it convenient to depreciate 
the language and grammar of our authorised 
version of Scripture.* I would recommend 

*One gentleman says: ""When I was at school, it 
was the habit of my tutor to give his class specimens of 
bad English for correction. You will be surprised to 
hear, that those specimens were chiefly texts from 
Scripture. They were given with all reverence, never- 
theless. It was because the readiest examples were to 
be had from the Bible, that any were taken from that 
source at all. Again, Shakspearc is held up by you as 
a pattern to modern grammarians. With all respect, I 
cannot understand how any man, with the education 
that you must have received, could venture even to 
insinuate such a dogma as this. Any one, with even 
the insufficient light which Murray affords, may detect 
numberless errors in every play which Shakspearc has 
written." This is rich indeed. One can well conceive 
the sort of English which was taught at my correspon- 
dent's school. And very much of the degenerate Eng- 


them to try the experiment of amending that 
language. They may then perhaps find that 
what the translators themselves once said is 
true. A story is told, that they had a recom- 
mendation from a correspondent to alter a 
certain word in their version, giving five suflS- 
cient reasons for the change. They are said 
to have replied that they had already con- 
sidered the matter, and had fifteen sufficient 
reasons against the change. I think if my 
correspondents can bring themselves to con- 
sider reasonably any passage in which the 
English grammar of our authorised version 
appears doubtful, they will find themselves in 
the same predicament as this correspondent 
of the translators. I have often tried the expe- 
riment, and this has generally been the result. 
Mind, our present question is not that of 
their having adequately translated the Greek, 
but whether or not they wrote their own 
language grammatically and clearly. 

172. Still, lest I should seem to be a of shak- 
" man of one book only," I will give from 
our greatest English writer, an instance 
(from among many) of what would be called 

lish of our day is to be traced to such instruction. I 
should like to have seen some of the tutor's corrected 


a similar ambiguity. In the " Two Gentle- 
men of Verona," act. i. scene 2, Julia says : — 

" O hateful hands, to tear such loving words ! 
Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey, 
And kill the bees that yield it with your stings." 

According to my correspondents, we ought to 
understand this as saying that the bees yield 
the honey by means of the wasps' stings. 
Best way of 173. But I conccivc we have had enoujrh of 

l)roceediDg ^ ^ 

in regard of these so-called Universal rules. All I would 

such rules. 

say on them to my younger readers is, the less 
you know of them, the less you turn your words 
right or left to observe them, the better. 
Write good manly English ; explain what you 
mean, as sensible intelligent men cannot fail 
to understand it, and then, if the rules be 
good, you will be sure to have complied with 
them ; and if they be bad, your writing will 
be a protest against them. See the " Edin- 
burgh Review," quoted in note on paragraph 
Real am- l74. It is uot difficult to distinguish the 


sentences whose arrangement I have been 
defending, from those in which real ambiguity 
arises. Take the following as examples. I 
found it in one of the daily papers : — " The 
most interesting news from Italy is that of 


the trial of the thieves who robbed the bank 
of Messrs. Parodi at Genoa, on May 1, 1862, 
in open dayhght, which commenced at Genoa 
on the 5th." In a letter addressed to another 
paper, this sentence occurs : " I with my family 
reside in the parish of Stockton, which consists 
of my wife and daughters." , 

1*75. Now both these sentences are instruc- 
tive to us. We may see from them how such 
ambiguity really arises : viz., by the occurrence 
between the antecedent and its pronoun, of 
another word, which naturally suggests to the 
mind of the hearer a connection with the fol- 
lowing pronoun. In both these sentences this 
is the case. Daylight is said to commence at 
a certain time, as well as a trial : a parish is 
said to consist of certain persons, as well as 
a family. Hence the ambiguity : and not, 
as is often maintained, from the mere form 
of the sentence. Any one so disposed may 
cull sentences out of any English writer, 
not even excepting Lord Macaulay, and 
show that they rtiay be understood in a 
certain number of hundred, or thousand, dif- 
ferent ways. But the simple answer is, that 
nobody ever will so understand them : and, 
as has been seen, there are often reasons why 
the apparently ambiguous form should be 


preferred to the strictly perspicuous one,, as 
being more forcible, putting the emphatic 
word or clause in the proper place, or even as 
avoidinof stiflfness and awkwardness of sound. 
Let your style be idiomatic, simple, natural : 
aim at satisfying the common sense of those 
who read and liear, and then, thouorh any one 
who has no better employment may pick 
holes in every third sentence, you will have 
written better English than one who suffers 
the tyranny of small critics to cramp the 
expression of his thoughts. 
Note after a l76. The following note has been sent me, 

tithe dinner. • i /. . , ,. • -r^. i . 

received aiter a tithe dinner in Devonshire : 
" Mr. T. presents his compliments to Mr. H., 
and I have got a hat that is not his, and if 
he have got a hat that is not yours, no doubt 
they are the expectant ones." It would defy 
any analysis to detect the source of confusion 
here. Perhaps "Ae" and "^/s" refer to some 
third person, not the Mr. H. who is addressed. 
But I fear we must look for the clue in the 
notice, " after a tithe dinner." EWdently, 
the effects of the banquet had not passed 
Clerical ad IVT. The following clerical advertisement 


ment' from a well-known paper has been sent by a 

correspondent : " A married A. B., now hold- 


ing a sole charge, will be disengaged on 17th 
September. He is an extempore preacher of 
the doctrines of grace in all their sanctifying 
influence, and now seeks another." If the 
hearers of the advertiser fare the same as his 
readers, I fear the influence, however good, 
would not be very eS"ectively administered. 
For it really costs no little ingenuity to 
discover that it is not another doctrine nor 
another influence which he wants, but another 
sole charge. 

1*78. Here is another specimen, in this case Criticism of 


an extract from a criticism of Mr. Fechter's " Hamlet." 
" Hamlet," in a daily paper : " His whole 
system consists in playing the character up- 
side down. He does not ignore tradition, but 
employs it so far that it enables him to do 
precisely the reverse. Dress, gait, action, 
everything, like his pronunciation, are alike 
unintellifjible." This is indeed a delio-htful 
specimen of confusion, and obscurity, and bad 
Enghsh. What is precisely the reverse which 
his employment of tradition enables him to 
do ? The reverse of what ? Is it the reverse 
of iornorinor tradition ? Does the critic mean, 
that he employs tradition so far that it 
enables him not to ignore it? Surely this is 
not the meaning. After feeling about in the 



The same 
term in 

dark some time, we arrive at a sort of suspi- 
cion, that the meaning must be, that Mr. 
Fechter employs tradition so far, that it 
furnishes him with the means of flying in the 
face of tradition — of contradicting the whole 
scope and tenor of tradition — of doing, in 
fact, precisely the reverse of that which an 
actor would do who scrupulously followed 
tradition. Bad as this sentence is, it might 
be matched ten times over any day on the 
table of a reading-room. 

17 8a. Can we, in an elliptic sentence, use 
the same term, once only expressed, as domg 
duty both in the nominative and accusative 
cases ? The late famous Oxford Declaration 
of the Clergy described the Canonical Scrip- 
tures as "not only containing but being the 
Word of God." The meaning was suflSciently 
clear : but is the phrase correct ? I venture 
to think that it is not, and that it should 
rather have been said " not only containing 
the Word of God, but themselves being the 
Word of God." Both precision and propriety 
are thus better secured. 

1786. Indeed we may venture to lay it 
down as a rule, that in sentences where 
several forms of speech converge, so to speak, 
on one term, that term is better expressed or 


indicated after each of them, than reserved 
to be expressed or indicated once only at the 
end of aR. " He not only requested an in- 
troduction to, but received with the utmost 
courtesy, placed himself by the side of, and 
from that day kept up friendly intercourse 
with, my young protege," is far better written, 
"He not only requested an introduction to 
my young protege, but received him with the 
utmost courtesy, placed himself by his side, 
and from that day kept up friendly intercourse 
with him." In this sentence, the change for 
the better is obvious : in many others, con- 
structed in the former manner, it may not be 
so plain : but that the change is for the better, 
if judiciously made, will I think in every case 
be ultimately apparent. 

179. Much has been said by my various Position of 

adverbs : 

correspondents about the placing of adverbs "only." 
and other qualifying terms* in respect of the 
verbs or nouns with which they are connected ; 
and the dispute has turned especially on the 
situation of the adverb " only^'' with regard to 
its verb. " Did you see a man and a woman P'' 
" 1^0 ; I only saw a man.'''' This is our ordi- 
nary colloquial English. Is it wrong? Of 

* See this expression justified below, paragraph 


course the pedant comes down on us, and 
says, " Yes ; it is wrong. You want yonr 
adverb ' only ' to qualify, not your act of 
seeing, but the number of pei-sons "whom you 
saw. The proper opposition to * / only saw 
a man'' would be ^ I saw and heard a man,^ 
or ^ I saw and touched him.^ " So far the 
pedant ; now for common sense. Common 
sense at once replies, "I beg the pedant's 
pardon ; he says I didn't want the adverb 
*onZy' to qualify my act of seeing? I say, I 
did. For what was the act of seeins:? The 
two things to be opposed are two acts of 
seeing. Seeing a man, and seeing a man and 
a woman. It was not the same sight. I only 
performed the one; I did not go further, and 
perform the other. I only saw a man ; I did 
not see a man and a woman." Of course the 
other way is right also, and, strictly speaking, 
the more technically exact of the two ; but it 
by no means follows that the more exact ex- 
pression is also the better English. Very 
often we cannot have exactness and smooth- 
ness together. AYherever this is the case, the 
harsher method of constructing the sentence 
is, in colloquial English, abandoned, even at 
the risk of exactness and school rules. The 
adverb " o;?Zv," in many sentences where 


strictly speaking it ought to follow its verb 
and to limit the objects of the verb, is in good 
English placed before the verb. 

1 80. Let us take an example of this from 
the great storehouse of good English, our 
authorised version of the Scriptures. In 
Ps. Ixii. 4, we read, " They only consult to 
cast him down from his excellency ;" i. e., 
their consultation is on one subject only, 
how to cast him down. See also Matt, 
xiv. 36. 

181. The account of the matter before us 
is just this : I may use my adverb " only " 
where two things are spoken of which are 
affected by the same action, to qualify the 
one as distinguished from the other, or I may, 
if I will, separate the action into two parts, 
the one having regard to the one thing acted 
on, and the other having regard to the other ; 
and I may make use of my adverb to qualify 
one part of the action as compared with the 
other. If I say " / ivill state only one thing 
more^'' I mean, that being about to state, I 
will confine that action to one thing and not 
extend it to any more ; if I say, " / will only 
state one thing more,'''' I mean that all I will do 
is, to make one statement, not more. But 
our gentlemen with their rules never look 


about to see whether usage is not justified; 
they find a sentence not arranged as their 
books say it ought to be, and it is instantly 
set down as wrong, in spite of the common 
sense and practice of all England being against 
"both." 182. This last-mentioned adverb is not the 

only word whose position is thus questioned : 
" both " is another. This word, we are told, 
should always be placed strictly before the 
former of the words to which it belongs in the 
sentence, not before the verb or noun which 
applies equally to the two. Thus, if I say 
" Thei/ broke down both the door of the stable 
and of the cellar,''^ I am charged with having 
^-iolated the rules of good English. The 
pedant would have it, " TkeT/ broke down the 
door both of the stable and of the cellar.^' Now, 
to my mind, the difiference between these two 
sentences is, that the foniier is plain collo- 
quial English : the latter is harsh and 
cramped, and could not have been written 
by a sensible man, but only by a man who 
thouo-ht less about conveyinij the sense of 
what he said, than about the rules by which 
his expression should be regulated. But let 
us see how the great masters of our English 
tonorue wrote. Let us balance Shakspeare 


against Lindlej Murray. In the " Tempest," 
act i. scene 2, Prospero tells Miranda that the 
usurping Duke of Milan, her uncle, 

" Having both the key 
Of officer and office, set all hearts i' th' state 
To what tune pleased his ear." 

This is, of course, a clear violation of the rule ; 
according to which the words ought to have 
run, " having the key of both officer and office.^'' 

183. As connected with the question of the "The three 

first Gos- 

arrangement of words, I may mention that I pels." 
have been in controversy, first and last, with 
several people,* while I have been engaged 
on my edition of the Greek Testament, about 
the expression " the three first Gospels.^'' My 
correspondents invariably maintain that this 
expression, which I always use, must be an 
oversight, and that I ought to say " the first 
three Gospels^ I should like to argue this 
out ; and the present seems a good oppor- 
tunity for doing so. 

184. There are Four Gospels, as we all 
know. And such is the distinctive character 
of the three which are placed first, as com- 
pared with the one which is placed last, that 
it often becomes necessary to speak of the 

* See paragraph 318a, below. 



three, and the one, in two separate classes. 
It is in doing so that I say " the three first 
Gospels,^'' and my correspondents want me to 
say " the first three GospeUy ^yhich of the 
two is right? or, if both are right, which of 
the two is the better ? 

185. My view is this. The whole number 
is divided into two classes: the first class, 
and the last class. To the former of these 
belonof three : to the latter belonsfs one. 
There are three that are ranged under the 
description ^^ first ;" and there is one that is 
ranged under the description " last.'''' Just 
in this way are the two classes spoken of in 
that saying of our Lord, " There are last 
which shall be first, and there are first which 
shall be last." (Luke xiii. 30.) It is not 
necessary that one only should be spoken of 
as first, and one only as last, as this quotation 
shows. The whole class is first, as compared 
with the whole other class which is last. Of 
twelve persons I may make two classes, and 
speak of \.h.Qfive first, and the seven last. This 
is a correct and logical way of speaking. The 
opposition between the two classes is as strict 
and complete, as when I say that of twelve 
men there are five tall and seven short. If 
then I wish to divide twelve men into two 


classes, I say, and I maintain I say riglitly, 
the Jive first and the seven last. If I wish to 
divide the four Gospels into two classes, I 
say, and maintain I say rightly, the three first 
Gospels, and the last Gospel. 

186. Now let us try the correctness of the 
other expression, " the first three GosjkIsT 
Used in common talk, it w^ould of course 
convey the same idea as the other. But that 
is not our present question. Our question is, 
which of the two is the more precise and 
correct? When I say ^^ the first three^"* the 
idea presented to the mind is, that I am 
going to speak of another three^ which shall be 
set in contrast to them. The proper oppo- 
sition to "a tall man'''' is "a short man^'' not 
a short stick. When therefore I take twelve 
men, and, dividing them into two classes, 
speak of the tall five and the short seven, I 
may be intelligible, but I certainly am not 
speaking precisely nor properly. And so 
when I take four Gospels, and, dividing them 
into two classes, speak of " the first three,'''' 
and " the last one,^'' I may be complying with 
technical rules, but I maintain that I am not 
complying with the requirements of common 
sense, and therefore neither with those of 
good English. 



187. A correspondent writes: — "As to the 
* three first Gospels,'' your explanation is clear. 
But 'would it be right to say, 'in the three 
first weeks of the quarter, the receipts were 
below the average V and if not, why not ?" 
In my opinion, it would be perfectly right to 
speak thus ; and in the particular instance 
given, "the three first weeks" would be 
better than "the first three weeks," for 
another reason; that '^'^ three iceeks''^ being a 
not unusual designation of the portion of 
time extending over three weeks, the expres- 
sion, "the first three weeks" would fail to 
direct the attention to the receipts week by 
week, which appears to be the desire of the 
confusofi 188. Fault has been found with me by some 

"he" ana of my correspondents and censors, for the 
confused use, as they are pleased to regard it, 
of the personal pronouns "he" and "it." 
Now here is another matter on which they 
and I are entirely at issue. A rule is cited 
from Dr. Campbell, that "wherever the pro- 
noun *he' will be ambiguous, because two or 
more males happen to be mentioned in the 
same clause of a sentence, we ought always to 
give another turn to the expression, or to use 
the noun itself and not the pronoun : for 



when the repetition of a word is necessary, 
it is not offensive. The translators of the 
Bible," continues Dr. C, " have often judi- 
ciously used this method: I say judiciously, 
because though the other method be on some 
occasions preferable, yet, by attempting the 
other they would have run a much greater risk 
of destroying " (he means, " a much greater 
risk, namely, that of destroying ") " that beau- 
tiful simplicity which is an eminent charac- 
teristic of Holy Writ. I shall take an instance 
from the speech of Judah to his brother Joseph 
in Egypt : ' We said to my lord, The lad can- 
not leave his father, for if he should leave his 
father, his father would die.' The words ' his 
father ' are in this short verse thrice repeated, 
and yet are not disagreeable, as they contri- 
bute to perspicuity. Had the last part of the 
sentence run thus : ' if he should leave his 
father he would die,' it would not have ap- 
peared from the expression whether it was 
the child or the parent that w^ould die." 

189. So far Dr. Campbell, "Philosophy of 
Rhetoric." Now it so happens, that although 
Dr. Campbell has been able to find an instance 
to illustrate his point, this is a matter about 
which the translators of the Bible, and indeed 
the best of our English writers, are very 


little ; of this, nnmerous instances might be 
produced out of our English Bible. I will 
content myself with two : the first from 2 
Kings i. 9: "Then the kinn; sent unto him a 
captain of fifty with his fifty : and he went 
up to him : and behold, he sat on the top of 
an hill." To common sense it is plain enough 
who is meant in each case by he and him, and 
I don't suppose a mistake was ever made 
about it : but the sentence is in direct viola- 
tion of Dr. Campbell's rule. Again, in Luke 
xix. 3, 4, we read of Zaccheus : " x\nd he 
sought to see Jesus who he was; and could 
not for the press, because he was little of 
stature. And he ran before, and climbed up 
into a sycamore tree to see him : for he was 
to pass that way." Now here you see the 
pronouns " he " and " him " are used indiscri- 
minately, sometimes of our Lord, sometimes 
of Zaccheus : and yet every one knows to 
whom to apply each of them. The caviller 
might find ambiguity over and over again ; 
and accordingly one of my censors says of 
this very example, " you surely do not defend 
the construction of these sentences?'' All I 
can tell him is, they run thus in the original : 
and this, our translators very well knew, is 
not a matter of the. grammar of our language, 


but of all lano-uao-es, belonn-ing: in fact to the 
laws of human thought. As to the transla- 
tors having, as Dr. Campbell says, often judi- 
ciously used the other method, the expression 
is peculiarly unfortunate. Our translators 
rendered most commonly what they found in 
the original, and very rarely indeed would 
have thought of repeating the noun where 
the original had the pronoun. In the ex- 
ample from Genesis, it would have been better 
if they had not repeated the words " his 
father" the third time, but had left the 
sentence ambiguous, as I believe it is in the 
orio-inal Hebrew.* 

* The Edinburgli Reviewer (July, 1864), in treating 
with just contempt the objections of these eager dis- 
coverers of ambiguities, makes the following very sensi- 
ble remarks : " If a man writes in a way which cannot 
be misunderstood by a reader of common candour and 
intelligence, he has done all, as regards clearness, that 
can be expected of him. To attempt more is to ask of 
language more than language can perform : the conse- 
quences of attempting it any one may see who will 
spend an hour with the Statutes at lai-ge. Jack was 
very respectful to Tom, and always took off his hat 
when he met him. Jack was very rude to Tom, and 
always knocked off his hat when he met him. Will 
any one pretend that either of these sentences is am- 
biguous in meaning, or uuidiomatic in expression? 
Yet critics of the class now before us are bound to 
contend that Jack showed his respect by taking off 
Tom's hat,^or else that he showed his rudeness by 
knocking off his own. It is useless to multiply ex- 


Does 190. What are we to think of the question, 

" than " ^ ' 

govern an whether " than " does or does not sfovern an 

accusative ° 

case? accusative case? ^^ than /;" '■'•than we;" 

which is right? My readers will probably 
answer without hesitation, the former. But 
is the latter so certainly wrong? We are 
accustomed to hear it stigmatised as being 
so ; but I think, erroneously. Milton writes, 
"Paradise Lost," ii. 299, 

Which when Beelzebub perceired, than whom, 
Saten except, none higher sat. 

And thus every one of us would speak : 
" than who " would be intolerable. And 
this seems to settle the question. 
Two ways of 191. The fact is, that there are two ways of 

amples ; no book was ever written that could stand a 
hostile examination in this spirit : and one that could 
stand it would be totally unreadable." 

I will add a story serving to show the usefulness, on 
certain occasions, of these penny-wise grammarians. 
The churchwardens of a parish near Bristol, having 
reason to make a presentation to the Bishop, met to 
draw it up. Churchwarden A brought the draft, be- 
ginning, " My Lord . . ." But Churchwarden B was a 
man of education, with the rules of grammar ever on 
his tongue. "My" was of course incorrect, where 
the "presentors" were two persons. The presenta- 
tion, he maintained, ought to be corrected ; and it 
narrowly escaped going up to the Bishop addressed to 
him as " Our Loi-d . . ." 


constructing a clause with a comparative and constructing 
^^ thany You may say cither " /Aaw. /" or 
" than me.'''' If you say the former, you use 
what is called an elliptical expression* i. e.^ 
an expression in which something is left out ; 
— and that something is the verb "«wi." 
" He is wiser than I," being filled out, would 
be, " He is wiser than I am :" " He is wiser 
than me," is the direct and complete construc- 
tion. The difference between the two usages 
seems to be this : and it is curiously confirma- 
tive of what has been sometimes observed, 
that men in ordinary converse shrink, in cer- 
tain cases, from the use of the bare nominative 
of the personal pronomi. Where solemnity 
is required, the construction in the nomina- 
tive is used. Our Lord's words will occur to 
us (John xiv. 28), " My Father is greater 
than 1." But in ordinary conversation this 
construction is generally avoided, as sounding 
too weighty and formal. In colloquial talk 
we commonly say either " He is older than 
rae," or perhaps more frequently, " He is 
older than I am." And so with the other 
personal pronouns, lie, she, ws, and thef/. 

Still it is urged that "than me" cannot be 
right : or can only be right when " me " is 
necessarily in government, as in the sentence, 


" He likes you better than me." I can do no 
more in reply, than urge the necessity of 
saying, " than Avhom," to show that "Maw" 
can and does really govern an objective case 
by its own power, and therefore may govern 
" me," or " him," or " her," or " them," if we 
choose so to construct the sentence. 
It is me." 192. The mention of the nominative and 
accusative of the personal pronoun seems not 
inaptly to introduce a discussion of the well- 
known and much controverted phrase, " It is 
me." Xow this is an expression which every 
one uses. Grammarians (of the smaller or- 
der) protest : schoolmasters (of the lower 
kind) prohibit and chastise ; but English 
men, women, and children go on saying it, 
and will go on saying it as long as the 
English language is spoken. Here is a phe- 
nomenon worth accouutinor for. " Xot at 
all so," say our censors : " don't trouble 
yourself about it ; it is a mere vulgarism. 
Leave it off yourself, and try to persuade 
every one else to leave it off." 

193. But, my good censors, I cannot. I 
did what I could. I wrote a letter inviting 
the chief of you to come to Canterbury and 
hear my third lecture. I wrote in some fear 
and trembling. All ray adverbs were (what 


I should call) misplaced, that I might not 
offend him. But at last, I was obliged to 
transgress, in spite of my good resolutions. 
I was promising to meet him at the station, 
and I was going to write : " if you see on 
the platform '•an old party in a shovel,'' that 
will be I." But my pen refused to sanction 
(to endorse, I believe I ought to say, but I 
cannot) the construction. " That will be me " 
came from it, in spite, as I said, of my re- 
solve of the best possible behaviour. * 

194. Let us see what a real grammarian Dr. La- 
says on the matter : one who does not lay opinion. 

down rules only, but is anxious to ascer- 
tain on what usages are founded. Dr. La- 
tham, in his admirable " History of the 
English Language," p. 586, says, " We may 
.... call the word me a secondary nomina- 
tive : inasmuch as such phrases as it is me = 
it is I, are common. To call such expres- 

* Of course it will be obvious, that in the indepen- 
dently constructed clause " that will be me (or I)," no 
difference whatever in the case of the personal pronoun 
can be made by its previous construction in the sen- 
tence. The mention of such an idea needs an apology : 
but it has been actually maintained that the accusative 
is right in this clause, because the personal pronoun 
represents a noun governed by the verb " see " : " that 
will be me [you will seej." 


sions incorrect Englisli, is to assume the 
point. No one says that c'est moi is bad 
French, and c'est je is good. The fact is 
that, with us, the whole question is a 
question of degree. Has or has not the 
custom been sufficiently prevalent to have 
transferred the forms me, ye, and you, from 
one case to another? Or perhaps we may 
say, is there any real custom at all in favour 
of /, except so far as the grammarians have 
made one ? It is clear that the French 
analogy is against it. It is also clear that 
the personal pronoun as a predicate may 
be in a difterent analogy from the personal 
pronoun as a subject." 

195. And in another place, p. 584, he 
says: "What if the current objections to 
such expressions as it is me (which the ordi- 
nary grammarians would change into it is /), 
be unfounded, or rather founded upon the 
ignorance of this difference (the difference 
between the use of the pronoun as subject 
and as predicate)? That the present writer 
defends this (so-called) vulgarism may be 
seen elsewhere. It mav be seen elsewhere, 
that he finds nothing worse in it than a 
Frenchman finds in c^est moi^ where, accord- 
ing to the English dogma, c'est je would be 


the right expression. Both constructions, the 
English and the French, are predicative: 
and when constructions are predicative, a 
change is what we must expect rather than 
be surprised at." 

196. The account which Dr. Latham has 
here given, is doubtless the right one. There 
is a disposition, when the personal pronoun is 
used predicativel55, to put it into the accusa- 
tive case. That this is more prevalent in 
the pronoun of the first person singular than 
in the others, may perhaps arise from the fact 
which Dr. Latham has elsewhere established, 
that me is not the proper, but only the 
adopted accusative of /, being in fact a dis- 
tinct and independent form of the personal 
pronoun. But, it may fairly be asked, whence 
arises this disposition to shrink from the use 
of the nominative case in the predicate ? For 
it does not apply to all instances where the 
pronoun is predicative. " He said unto them, 
it is I: be not afraid." This is a capital 
instance : for it shows us at once why the 
nominative should be sometimes used. The 
Majesty of the Speaker here, and His purpose 
of re-assuring the disciples by the assertion 
that it was none other than Himself, at once 
point out to us the case in which it would be 


proper for the nominative, and not the accu- 
sative, to be used.* 

"it is he?'" ■^^^' ■^^'- Latham goes on to say, after the 
first of my two citations, p. 587, "At the 
same time it must be observed, that the ex- 
pression, it is me =■ it is I, will not justify the 
use of it is him, it is her = it is he, and it is 
she. Me, ye, you, are what may be called 
indifferent forms, i. e., nominative as much as 
accusative, and accusative as much as nomi- 
native. Him and k^r, on the other hand, 
are not indifferent. The -wi and -/• are re- 
spectively the signs of cases other than the 

198. But is this quite consistent with the 
idea that the categorical use of the pronoun 
in the predicate may be different from that 
of the same pronoun as a subject? Me may 
not have been the orig-inal accusative case of 
/; but it is unquestionably the adopted ac- 
cusative, in constant use as such. Where lies 
the difference, grammatically, between it is 
me, and it is him, or it is her, as far as present 
usage is concerned ? It seems to me that, if 
we are prepared to defend the one, we ought in 
consistency also to defend the other. When, 

*The predicate in the question, "Is it I?" (Matt. 
xxA'i. 22), is hardly perhaps a case in point. 


in the Ingoldsby legend, the monks of Rheims 
saw the poor anathematised jackdaw appear, 
"Regardless of grammar, they cried out, 
* That's him !' " And I fear we must show an 
equal disregard of lohat ordinarily 2>CLSses for 
grammar, if we would give a correct account 
of the prevalent usages of our language.* 

199. There is one form of construction 
which is sometimes regarded as coming under 
the present question, but with which, in fact, 
it is not concerned. I mean that occurrina: 
in such phrases as " You didn't know it to he 
m€," '•'■ I suspected it to he himy In these, the 
accusative cases are simply in government, 
and nominatives would be altogether un- 
grammatical. The verb substantive takes 
the same case after it as went before it. 
It is in fact, in these sentences, equivalent 
to as, or as being. " You didii't knoio it to he 
/," would be equivalent to " you didn't recog- 
nise it as /," which of course would be wrong. 

199a. A correspondent asks me to notice "a "you and 
usage now becoming prevalent among persons sative. 
who ought to know better : viz. that of ' you 
and I,' after prepositions governing the accu- 
sative." He gives an instance from "Both- 
well," a poem by Professor Aytoun, p. 199 : 
* See note F, at the end of the xolume. 


" But it were vain for you and I 
In single fight our strength to try." 

On the impropriety of this there can of 
course be only one opinion. "Perhaps," 
my correspondent adds, " Professor Aytoun 
may have read 'John Gilpin,' and, innocent 
himself of coekneyisms, may have supposed 
that it is good English to say 

' On horseback after toe.' " 

-as thee." 1996. When Thomson, in " Rule Britannia," 
wrote " The nations not so blest as thee," was 
he writing correct English? I venture to 
think he was. As^ like than^ is capable of 
being used in two distinct constructions, the 
elliptic, and the complete. " As thou " is the 
elliptic construction, requiring the verb sub- 
stantive for its completion, "as thou art^ 
" As thee^'' like " than whom," is the complete 
construction, in which the conjunction of com- 
parison has a quasi-prepositional force, and 
governs the pronoun in the objective case. 
The construction cited from Sir Walter Scott 
by one of my critics as faulty, 

" Yet oft in Holy Writ we see 
Even such weak minister as me 
May the oppressor bruise," 


is perfectly correct : not, it is true, the usual 
form of expression, or the more elegant, but 
one to which, on purely grammatical grounds, 
there is no objection. The attempt which my 
critic makes to convict it of error by assuming 
it to be the elliptical form, such . . . as me 
(am), only shows how much some of us need 
reminding of the first principles of the syntax 
of our language. 

200. We have said something of superfluous Use of "of." 
prepositions : let us remark on the use of pre- 
positions themselves. The preposition " of " is 
sometimes hardly dealt with. When I read in 
an article in the Times, on a late annexation, 
" What can the Emperor possibly want of 
these provinces of Savoy ?" I saw at once that 
the writer must be a native of the midland 
counties, where your friends complain that 
you have not " called of them of a long time.'''' 
Now in this case it is not the expression, but 
the sense meant to be conveyed by it, that is 
objectionable. " What can the Emperor want 
of these provinces ?" is very good English, if 
we mean " What request has he to make of 
these provinces?" But if we mean, as the 
Times'* writer evidently did, " What does he 
want with the provinces ?" /. <?., " What need 
has he of them ?" then it is a vulgarism. 



201. There is a peculiar use of prepositions, 
whicli is allowable in moderation, but must 
not be too often resorted to. It is the placing 
them at the end of a sentence, as I have just 
done in the words " resorted to ;" as is done 
in the command, " Let not your good be evil 
spoken of;" and continually in our discourse 
and writing. 
Preposi- 202. The account to be given of this is, that 

tions at the 

end of the preposition, which the verb usually takes 


after it, is regarded as forming a part of the 
word itself. To sjyeak of, to resort to, are 
hardly verbs and prepositions, but form in 
each case almost one word. But let us go 
on. " Where do you come from ?" is the 
only way of putting that inquiry. " "Whence 
come you V is of course pedantic, though 
accurate. " Where are you going to ?" is 
exactly like the other question, but here we 
usually drop the " ^o," merely because the 
adverb of rest '■'•lohere^'' has come to be used 
for the adverb of motion " whither,^'' and 
therefore the "to" is not wanted. If a man 
chooses, as West-country men mostly do, to 
say " Where are you going to ?" he does not 
violate propriety, though he does violate 
custom. But let us go further still. Going 
to has not onlv a local, it has also a mental 


meaning, being equivalent to intending in the 
mind. And this usage rests on exactly the 
same basis as the other. The "/o" of the in- 
finitive mood is precisely the same preposi- 
tion as the "^o" of motion towards a place. 
" Were you going to do it ?" simply means 
" Were you, in your mental intention, ap- 
proaching the doing of it ?" And the proper 
conversational answer to such a question is, 
" I was going to," or " I was not going to," as 
the case may be ; not " I was going," or " I * 

was not going," inasmuch as the mere verb 
to go does not express any mental intention. 
I know, in saying this, that I am at variance 
wdth the rules taught at very respectable 
institutions for enablinfr youno- ladies to 
talk unlike their elders ; but this I cannot 
help ; and I fear this is an offence of which 
I have been, and yet may be, very often 

203. This kind of colloquial abbreviation 
of the infinitive comprehends several more 
phrases in common use, and often similarly 
objected to, e. y., '-'' ought to^'' and ^^ ought 
not to,''"' ^^ neglect to,''^ «kc., some of them not 
very elegant, but all quite unobjectionable on 
the score of grammar. These abbreviations 
are very common in the West of England, 

M 2 



past, and 

and are there carried further than any reason 
will allow. 

204. In many cases of this kind wc have 
a choice whether the preposition shall precede 
or follow the object of the sentence. Thus 
I may say, " the man to ickom I had written^'* 
or " the man whom I had icritten to^ In this 
particular instance the former is the more 
elegant, and would usually be said : but this is 
not always so ; e. g., " You're the man I wanted 
to have some talk with^''"' would always be said ; 
not, *^You^re the man loith lohom I icanted to 
have some talk,^'' which would sound stilted 
and pedantic. 

205. The next thing I shall mention, not 
for its own sake, but as a specimen of the 
kind of criticism which I am often meeting 
with, and as instructive to those who wish to 
be critics of other men's language. I have 
said that ''Dr. Donne preacher" so and so. 
My correspondent takes exception to this, and 
tells me that Dr. Donne has been dead some 
two hundred years, and therefore I ought 
to say Dr. Donne preached, and not j^f^ochef:. 
This may seem mere trifling : but it is worth 
while to notice, that we speak thus, in the 
present tense, of writings permanently placed 
on record. Their authors, being dead, yet 


speak to us. It would be affected and 
unusual to speak otherwise of things cited 
from books. If we use the past tense at all, 
it is not the indefinite, but the perfect, which 
also conveys the idea of a living and acting 
even now. I should say, " Dr. Donne has 
explained this text thus or thus;" not "Dr. 
Donne explained this text thus or thus." This 
latter serttence would bear a different meaning. 
If I say, " Livy writes,^'' or " Livy has written, 
so and so," I imply that the book containing 
the incident is now extant. But if I say, 
" Livy ivrote so and so," I should naturally be 
taken to be speaking of something reported 
as having been written in one of the books of 
his history which have been lost. You may 
say of a sick man yet living, " He has lost much 
strength during the week." But the moment 
he is dead, you can no longer thus speak: 
you must say, " He lost much strength during 
the week." If I say, " I have seen Wales 
twice," I carry the period during which my 
assertion is true through my whole life down 
to the present time. If I say, "I saw Wales 
twice," my words simply refer to the fact, and 
the period to which they refer is understood 
to have terminated. I mean, in my youth, or 
when I was in Cheshire, or the like. Some- 


times the difference between the two tenses 
may convey an interesting moral distinction. 
If I say, "My father left me an injunction to 
do this or that," I leave the way open to say, 
" bnt now circumstances have changed, and I 
find another course more advisable :" if I say 
" My father has left me an injunction to do 
this or that," I imply that I am at this mo- 
ment obeying, and mean to obey, that injunc- 
tion. The perfect tense is in fact a present, 
relating to the effect, at the present time, of 
some act done in the past.* 
Their con- 206. An important difference in meaning is 


sometimes made by the wrong or careless use of 
one of these tenses for the other. An instance 
of this occurs in the English version of the 
Bible in the beginning of Acts xix. There 
we read, in the original, that St. Paul finding 
certain disciples at Ephesus, asked them, " Did 
ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed — 
when ye first became believers?" To this 
they answered, " We did not so much as 
hear whether there were any Holy Ghost." 

* The confusion between these tenses is sometimes 
curious . "I call," says an Irish correspondent, " at 
the office of a gentleman who is expected every minute, 
and am told, ' He didn't come to-day,' or, ' He didn't 
come yet." 


On which St. Paul asked them, " Unto what 
then were ye baptized V They repHed, 
" Unto the baptism of John." Then he ex- 
plained to them that John's baptism, being 
only a baptism of repentance, did not bring 
with it the gift of the Holy Ghost. In this 
account, all is clear. But the English version, 
by an unfortunate mistake, has rendered the 
narrative unintelligible. It has made St. 
Paul ask the converts, " Have ye received the 
Holy Ghost since ye believed ?" So far, indeed, 
all would be clear ; for they certainly had 
not, though this does not represent what was 
said by the Apostle. But it is their answer 
which obscures the history. '' We have not 
so much as heard," they are made to say, 
" whether there be any Holy Ghost." Strange 
indeed, that these disciples, who had probably 
been for years in the Church, should during 
that time, and up to the time when St. 
Paul spoke, never have heard of the existence 
of the Holy Spirit. Render the words accu- 
rately, and all is clear. 

207. I am now going to speak of a combina- "was being 

/. ^ ^ • ^ -^ i i i written." 

tion 01 words which is so completely natural- 
ised, that it would be vain to protest against 
it, or even to attempt to disuse it one's self. 
I mean, the joining together of a present and 


a past participle, as we do when we say " The 
letter loas being written,^'' " The dinner is being 
cooked." Such combinations were, I believe, 
not used by our best and most careful writers, 
until a comparatively recent date. The old 
and correct way of expressing what is meant 
by these phrases, was, " The letter was in 
writing,^'* or " was writing ;" " The dinner is 
cooking ;" the verbs being used in a neuter 
sense. The objection to " being written " for 
"in the process of writing,'''' is this, — that 
" written " is a past participle, indicating a 
finished act. When I say "/ have written a 
letter,'''* I mean, I have by me, or have as my 
act accomplished, a letter written. So that 
" being written " properly means, existing in a 
state of completion. " My letter being ivrit- 
ten, I put it in the post." And, strictly 
speaking, we cannot use the combination to 
signify an incomplete action. Still, as I have 
said, the inaccuracy has crept into the lan- 
guage, and is now found everywhere, in speech 
and in writing. The only thing we can do 
in such a case is to avoid it, where it can be 
avoided without violation of idiom, or giving 
harshness to the sentence. 
" shall " and 208. The next point which I notice shall be the 

" will." 

use of the auxiliaries "s^a/Z" and " «^^«7^." Now 



here we are cat once struck by a curious phe- 
nomenon. I never knew an EngHshman who 
misplaced " shall " and " ivill ;" I hardly ever 
have known an Irishman or a Scotchman who 
did not misplace them sometimes. And it is 
strange to observe how incurable the propen- 
sity is. It was but the other day that I 
asked a person sprung of Irish blood, whether 
he would be at a certain house to which I was 
going that ev^ening. The answer was, " Fm 
afraid I ivori't.'''' Yet my friend is a sound 
and accurate English scholar, and I had never 
before, during all the years I had known him, 
discovered any trace of the sister island. 

209. In attempting to give an explanation of 
our English usage, I may premise that it is 
exceedingly difficult to do so. We seem to 
proceed rather on instinct, than by any fixed 
rule. Yet instinct, in i-ational beings, must 
be founded on some inherent fitness of 
things; and examination ought to be able 
to detect that fitness. Let us try to do this, 
though it may be difficult, in the case before 

210. The simplest example that can be given "I will." 
is ^'- IioilV Now this can have but one mean- 
ing. It can only be used as expressing deter- 
mination ; only, where the will of the person 


speaking is concerned. " Wilt thou have this 
woman to thy wedded wife ?" Answer, " I 
will " (ill the Latin, " volo "). We cannot 
use " / ?i'/Z/," where a mere contingent future 
event is concerned. We cannot use " / loilV* 
of anytliing uncertain, anything about which 
we hope or fear. " Help me, I'll fall," if 
strictly interpreted, would be an entreaty to 
be saved from an act of wilful precipitation. 
'■'• I fear I woii'V is an impossible and un- 
meaning junction of terms. If it meant any- 
thing, it could only be, " I fear that, when the 
time comes, my power of volition will be 
found too weak for its work." But this is 
obviously not what it is intended to meaa. 
The account then of " / xoill " seems very 
"I shall." 211. Now, what is " / shall .^" In its ordi- 

nary use, it just takes those cases of things 
future, where " / loill " cannot be said : those 
cases where the things spoken of are inde- 
pendent of our own will. '"'•Next Tuesday I 
shall be tioenty-one'*'' — an event quite out of my 
own power. So far, all is plain. But there 
is a case of '■^ I shalV which somewhat com- 
plicates the matter. We are in the habit, 
when announcing something which we posi- 
tively mean to do, to speak of it as if it were 



taken, so to say, out of the region of our own 
will, and placed among things absolutely cer- 
tain ; and in such cases we turn " ivilV into 
" shall.'*'' The traveller meets Avith incivility, 
or he cannot find his luo^nrafre, at the station. 
He breaks forth, in angry mood, " / shall 
write to the ' Times ' about this,^'' — and he 
means the station-master to conclude that his 
writing is as certain as if it were already 
done. The '■'■ shall '''' is intended to elevate 
the " will " into the category of things indis- 

212. So far then for '' wilV and " sAaZZ" "you ^vill." 
when used in the first person. But how when 

used in the second ? Let us take " You wiliy 
" You luilV is used when speaking to ano- 
ther person of a matter entirely out of the 
speaker's power and jurisdiction. " You ivill 
he tiventy-one next Tuesday.'''' " If you climb 
that ladder you ivill fall.'''' This is the ordi- 
nary use. Here again there is an exception, 
which I cannot well treat till I have spoken 
of " You shall.'" 

213. " You shall" or " You shall not^'' is "you shall." 
said to another, when the will of the speaker 
compels that which is spoken of. " Thou 

shalt love the Lord thy God." " TTiou shalt 
not steal." 


Exceptions. 214. The exceptions to both these usages 
may be stated thus, and they are nearly 
related to that of which I spoke when on the* 
first person. A master writes to his servant, 
" On the receipt of this you will go^"* or " you 
will please to go,^'' ^'' to such a place.'''' This is 
treating the obedience of the servant as a 
matter of certainty, sure to follow of course 
on his lord's command. The exception in 
the use of '"'• shalV is when we say, for in- 
stance, '■'■If you look through history^ you shall 
find that it has always been so,^^ and the ac- 
count of it seems to be, that the speaker 
feels as perfect a certainty of the result, as if 
it were not contingent, but depended only on 
his absolute command. 

"will "and 215. It remains that we consider the words 

*' slifill ^^ in 

the third " Will " and " shall " as applied in the third 


person ; said of persons and things spoken 
about. And here, what has already been 
said will be a sufficient guide in ordinary 
cases. For all announcements of common 
events foreseen in the future, " ivill " is the 
word to be used. " / think it will rain before 
night." " To-morrow icill be old May-day.''"' 
We may sometimes use ^^ shall" but it can 
only be in cases where our own will, or 
choice, or power, exercises some influence over 


the events spoken of : as for instance, '''■The 
sun shall not set to-night before I find out this 
matter.^'' ''''Next Tuesday shall he the day.'''' 
Notice, you would not say, Next Tuesday 
shall he my hirthday ;" you must say, " Next 
Tuesday will be my birthday : " because that 
is a matter over which you have no control : 
but the Queen might say, ^^ Next Tuesday 
shall be my birthday:'''* because she would 
mean, " shall be kept as my birthday,'''' a mat- 
ter over which she has control. 

216. There are some very delicate and instances of 

almost in- 
curious cases of the almost indifferent usaoje cUtfeicnt 

^ usage. 

of the two auxiliary verbs. Take this one, 
'■''If he will look, he will find it to he so.'''* 
Here we use the first " ivill " in the sense of 
" choose to : " " If he please to look.'''' But the 
second has its mere future use : " he will find 
that it is so.''^ Here, however, we might use, 
though it would be somewhat pedantic Eng- 
lish, the word '■''shalV in both members of 
the sentence : " If he shall look, he shall find 
it to be so,'''' and then the former " shall " 
would be in the sense of a mere future, and 
the second in that sense of absolute certainty, 
" I will undertake that he shall find,''"' of which 
I spoke just now. This sentence might in 
fact be correctly said iu four different ways: 


If he will look, he will find : 
If he shall look, he shall find : 
If he will look, he shall find : 
If he shall look, he will find. 
I may mention that the almost uniform use 
of " shall " as applied to future events and to 
persons concerned in them, is reserved for 
the prophetic language of the Bible, as spoken 
by One whose will is supreme and who has 
all under His control. 

217. There are certain other cases in which 
we may say either " will " or " shall.'''' In 
reporting what another said, or what one said 
one's self, we may say, " He told me he should 
go up to toion to-morrow and settle it ;" or we 
may say, ^^ He told me he icould go up to town^^ 
(fee. This arises from the possibility, already 
noticed, of using either word in speaking in 
the first person. 
Ambiguity. 218. Sometimes an ambiguity arises from 
the fact that " wilV and " would'''' either may 
convey the idea of inclination of the will, or 
may point to a mere future event. AVe have 
two notable instances in the English vei*sion 
of the New Testament. Our Lord says to 
the Jews (John v. 40), " Ye will not come to me 
that ye might have life^ Is He merely an- 
nouncing a fact, or is He speaking of the 


bent and inclination of their minds? We 
consult the original, and the question is at 
once answered. What our Lord says, is this : 
" Ye are not ivilling,^'' " ye have no mind,'''' " to 
come to me that ye might have life.'''' 

219. Again (Matt. xi. 27). '■'■Nomanknow- 
eth the Father save the Son., and he to ivhomso- 
ever the Son will reveal Hiin,'''' Is this " wilV* 
a. mere auxiliary for the future meaning, or 
does it convey the idea of exercise of will? 
Here again the original sets us right in a 
moment. It is, " he to whom the Son is 
minded to reveal Him." 

220. Let us take a still more remarkable 
case. The Pharisees said to our Lord (Luke 
xiii. 31), "Get thee hence, for Herod will kill 
thee." This seems a mere future, and I have 
no doubt English readers universally regard it 
as such : but the original is " Herod wishes,' 
"is minded," "to kill thee." 

221. The sense of duty conveyed by 
" should " sometimes causes ambiguity. Thus 
we have (Matt. xxvi. 35), " Though I should 
die with thee, yet will I not deny theey This, 
to the mere English reader, only conveys 
the sense, " Even if it should happen that I 
should die with thee.'''' But on consulting the 
original we find we should be wrong in 


thus understanding it. It is, " Even if it be 
necessart/ for me to die with thee'''' — and 
would have been better rendered, " Even if I 
must die with theey But in another clause 
(John xxi. 19), " This spake He, signifying 
by what death he should glorify God," the 
'•^should''' does not represent any necessity, 
but the mere future. 
"It would 222. Which is right, " i7 would seem," or 

seem.*'' "It . 

should " it should seem " ? asks a Scottish corre- 


spondent. I believe both are right, but 
with slightly differing meanings. Both, be it 
observed, are expressions of very slight and 
qualified assent. The former, "i7 would 
seem," implies, " we are told that if we were 
to weigh all that is to be said, we should 
come to such or such a conclusion." The 
latter, ^^ it should seem," conveys the meaning, 
with perhaps a slightly ironical tinge, that 

> we are required to believe so and so. The 

Germans use their " soil," in reporting the 
conclusions or belief of others, in nearly the 
same sense. 

Confusion of 223. An amusing instance of the confusion 

'•shall" and -, , ,, , .7, , i 

"will." of shall and will was repeated to me by 
another Scottish correspondent. A young 
men's " Institute for Discussion and Self- 
improvement " is reported in a Scottish pro- 


vincial paper to have met, and discussed the 
question, " Shall the material universe be 
destroyed ?" My correspondent supposes 
that the decision was in the neo:ative : or that 
if it was in the affirmative, the society can- 
not have proceeded to carry its resolution into 

224. I believe Dr. Latham, in his "His- Dr. La- 
tory of the EnHish Lanffuasre," was the first account of 

^ ° . . . this. 

to observe that the confusion in such cases is 
more apparent than real. The Englishman 
and the Scotchman mean the same thing, but 
express it differently. We may say either, 
"the material universe will be destroyed," ex- 
pressing merely something which will happen 
some day in the future : or we may say " the 
material universe shall be destroyed," in which 
case we put more solemnity and emphasis 
into our announcement, and treat it as some- 
thing inevitable, pronouncing almost as if 
we were exercising our own will in the mat- 
ter. When we turn the assertion into a 
question, we say, " Will the material universe 
be destroyed ?" the Scotchman says, " Shall 
the material universe be destroyed ?" He 
means to put, as a question, what we meant, 
when we used shall in the assertion. But be 
it observed, that in turning the proposition 


into a question, the shall assumes a ludicrous 
form, because of the deliberative aspect given 
to the sentence ; and it looks as if the person 
putting the question had the option whether 
he would destroy the universe or not. 
A case in 225. Five years aQ:o I was visiting Loch 

which it * . . . 

seems to Marcc, in Ross-shire, with my family. We 

fail. ' . 

took a " trap " from the comfortable inn at 
Kinloch-Ewe, and lunched and sketched on 
the cliffs, about twelve miles down the lake. 
When our time was nearly up, our Highland 
driver appeared in the distance, shouting, 
" Will I yank him ?" which, being interpreted, 
meant to say, " Shall I harness the pony ?" 
I hardly sec how even Dr. Latham's explana- 
tion will account for the usajxe here.* 

* I venture to insert the following remarks of a very 
intelligent Irish correspondent : — 

" Your rules for the use of ' shall ' aud ' will ' seem to 
me, as far as they go, the most simple and satisfactory 
I have ever read. But I observe : — 

" I. No rule is laid down for the use of these words 
in interrogation. In Ireland the tendency is to make 
use of ' will ' in cverrj case. I have collected several 
examples from English writers which seem to me to 
suggest the following rules : — 

'' ' Will 1J0U P is a request. 

'■'■'• Shall youp a simple question as to the future 

" ' Will heP a simple question. 

" ' Shall heP means ' do rjou wish that he shall V 


226. We often find persons using super- Use of 


fluous conjunctions or prepositions in their particles— 


" ' Will IP is always incorrect. 

" ' Shall IP has two meanings : 1st, it aslis tlie 
simple question as to the future event, v. g., ' shall I be 
of age next month ?' 2nd, it asks, ' do you wish that 
I shall P V. //., 'shall I call you friend?' 

"II. Tou say nothing of the use of these words in 
the secondary clauses of such sentences as the follow 

" ' He hopes that he shall not be thought,' &c. 

" ' He walked into a church knowing well he should 
find,' &c. 

" Phrases of this kind occur very frequently, and, I 
think, almost all ray countrymen would be found to 
use will and would instead of shall and shoidd. I may 
add that, as it seems to me nothing to be found in your 
book would set them right on this point, I would pro- 
pose the following principle for such cases: — If we re- 
port in our own words what another has said, or 
thought, or known, or felt, we must use that verb 
which he would have used if, speaking in the first per- 
son, he had himself related the circumstance. 

"III. There is to be found almost every day in the 
Times (second column) a curious illustration of the dis- 
tinction between 'shall' and 'will.' When a person 
advertises for a lost article we sometimes read, ' If any 
person brings, &c., he shall be rewarded :' sometimes 
we find, 'a reward willho, given.' Now here your rules 
seem to be at fault. The future event, namely, the 
giving of the reward, is dependent upon the will of the 
speaker in the latter case as well as in the former. If 
the rule hold good, therefore, we might say, 'A re- 
ward sliall be given.' Yet this is never said." 

[This seems to fall under the list of exceptions men- 
tioned in paragraph 214 ; where the result is so spoken 
of as not contingent but certain. " A reward shallhQ 

N 2 


usual talk. Two cases are more frequent 
than others. One is the use of hut after the 
verb to doubt. " I do not doubt but that he 
will come," is both found in print and heard 
in conversation. The " but " is wholly un- 
necessary, and a vulgarism. " I do not doubt 
that he will come," expresses precisely the 
same thing, and should always be used. 

"onto." 227. The same may be said of the ex- 

pression on to. " The cat jumped on to 
the chair;" the to being wholly unneeded, 
^ and never used by any careful w^riter or 

Defence 228. Few points mentioned in these " notes " 

have provoked so much rejoinder as this repro- 
bation of "on to." It seems, to judge by its many 
defenders, to be an especial favourite. The 
plea usually set up for it is, that " on " with- 
out " to " does not sufficiently express motion : 
that "the cat jumped on the chair" would 
imply merely that the cat, being on the chair 
already, there jumped. To this I have but 
one answer; that no doubt the words may 
mean this, to one who is disposed to invent 
meanings for them ; but that they do mean 

given," is the subjective dictum of him who lias so de- 
termined : " a reward will be given," is the objective 
future certainty, the determination\)C,vag\osi sight of.] 


this, is surely not true. " The cat jumped on 
the table, and began to lap the milk." Who 
would ever misunderstand this? Take an in- 
cident of one's schoolboy long walks. " Coach- 
man, I'm very tired, and I shall be late in ; 
but I've got no money in my pocket." " All 
right, my lad, jump on the box." Was there 
ever a schoolboy who would fail to com- 
prehend this ?* 

229. One correspondent asks why "o?^to" "onto" 

and "into." 

is not as good English as " into .^" I answer, 
because " otz " is ordinarily a preposition of 
motion as well as of rest, whereas " «i" is 
almost entirely a preposition of rest, To fall 
on, to light on, and the like, are very com- 
mon ; and we are thus prepared for the use 
of 071 to signify motion without an additional 

229a. It will be manifest, that the juxta- "holding on 


position of " on " and " to " in such a sentence 

* Since the publication of the first edition, several 
correspondents have again vehemently controverted 
the opinion here expressed: and I have been even 
urged to withdraw it and confess myself in the wrong. 
I am afraid, therefore, that my correspondents will 
think me very obstinate for still maintaining my view : 
and saying, that I cannot conceive what signification 
of motion towards is gained by the vulgarism " on to,^^ 
which is not already conveyed by " o;?," or at all 
events by '•'■upoiiy 


as this, "she continued holding on to the 
door of the carriage," is not an example 
Mithin the scope of these remarks. The 
"o;i" in this case belongs to the verb : and 
" holding-on to " is equivalent to " clinging toy 
"on" nnd 230. How do ouF usasfes of "on" and 

" upon." ° 

^^npon" differ? In the very few cases where 
we recognise any difference, the question may 
be answered by observing the composition of 
the latter word. It almost always, as the 
dictionaries observe, " implies some sub- 
stratum ;" something that underlies the 
thing spoken of. But then so does also the 
shorter preposition in most cases. There is 
hardly an instance to be found of which it 
could positively be said, that we may use the 
one preposition and may not use the other. 
Perhaps we may find one, when we say that a 
diver, describing his trip beneath the water, 
would hardly report that he " saw several 
rusty guns lying wjljo/i the bottom," but " ly- 
ing on the bottom." 

231. A correspondent sends me what be 
supposes to be an account of the distinction, 
but I believe it to be an erroneous one. " I 
would (should?) say, ^ upon a tower;' on 
the same principle, I would (should?) say, 
*o;i a marsh.' There would, indeed, be no 


harm in saying '' on a tower;' but there 
would be an impropriety in saying ' iq^on a 
marsh ;' for z^/), whether we are attentive or 
inattentive, whether we have been a thousand 
times wrong or never, means somewhat high, 
somewhat to which we ascend. I should 
speak correctly if I said, ' Dr. Johnson jiew 
upon me :' incorrectly, if I said, ' he fell 
upon me."' 

232. The error here seems to me to be in 
referring the height indicated by up to the 
motion previous to, not to the position indi- 
cated by, the action spoken of. AYe perhaps 
cannot say " uj^on the bottom ;" not how- 
ever because we do not rise to get there, but 
because the bottom, being of necessity the 
lowest point, has nothing beneath it with 
reference to which it is high. And as to my 
correspondent's last dictum, that "he fell 
upon me" would be incorrect, let him look 
at 1 Kings ii. 25, 34, 46, in which places it is 
said of Adonijah, Joab, and Sliimei, respec- 
tively, that Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, ^\fell 
upon him that he died." 

233. The expression "to open tcp,^^ is a Tu "ojiea 
very favourite one with our newspapers. It 

may have, as several of my correspondents 
insist, a certain meaning of its own, thouirh 


I am even now unable to see, in any case 
■where I have found it, why the simple word 
"open" would not be better. The meaning 
■which it is designed to convey, seems to be,, 
to open for the first time, — to break up and 
open. A railway is said to open up a com- 
munication between two places not so con- 
nected before. Thus used, the term may be 
endured, but, surely, should not be imitated. 
As to the instances from "Good Words," 
which have been produced against me as if 
I were responsible for them, "He ojmfis up 
in the parched desert a well that refreshes 
"us;" "These considerations may open up to 
us one view of the expediency of Christ's 
departure ;" I can only regard them as Scot- 
ticisms, which certainly would not have been 
written south of the Tweed. 

234. The parallel ■\^•hich the defenders of 
the expression have drawn between open up 
and rise up, grow up^ is hardly a just one, 
seeing that in these cases the adverb, or 
intransitive preposition, up^ gives us the ten- 
dency in which the progressive action indi- 
cated by the neuter verb takes place ; and 
even if it do not that, intensifies and gives 
precision. More apposite parallels would 
have been found in rip up, tear up, pull 


up, where up defines tlie active verb ; a 
mere decisive one still, in the term to shut 
up, where up implies the closing and finality 
of the act indicated ; and for this reason 
should hardly be used with the opposite 
word to open. If we shut up a communi- 
cation, we ought to open it down rather 
than up. Put the word Avith any analogous 
term, and its inappropriateness will be per- 
ceived. A new railway develops, expands, 
promotes, the traffic; but we could not 
say it develops up, expands up, promotes up, 
the traffic. 

235. Which is riorht, "at hest.^"* or "at the "at host," 

. . . . "at the 

best r It is plain that this question does best.*' 
not stand alone ; several other phrases are 
involved in it. It affects " at least," " at 
most," "at furthest," and even such very 
common expressions as " at first," and " at 

The answer, it seems to me, is, that the 
insertion or omission of the definite article is 
indifferent. Usage has generally sanctioned 
its omission before the very common super- 
latives, "first," "last," "most," "least," "fur- 
thest;" but when we put a less usual 
adjective in this construction, the article 
seems to be required, or a possessive pro- 


noun in its place. "The storm was at the 
(or, "its") highest at noon;" "What is 
woman at her loveUest?" And we some- 
times fill out the phrase with the article 
when we want it to be more than usually 
solemn : " If he did not love his father, at 
the least he might have honoured him." "A; 
the last" is found six times in the English 
Bible ; " at last," if we may trust the con- 
cordances, never ; " at the first," twenty- 
eight times ; " at first," never ; " at the least," 
three times; while "at least" is found twice 
(1 Sam. xxi. 4, Luke xix. 42) ; " at the most," 
once (1 Cor. xiv. 27) ; but " at most," never. 
"all of 2S6. ''All of them,'"'' both of them:' These 


'• both of expressions are often challenired. Are they 

them." ^ !=> J 

right, or not? When I have a number of 
things, and speak of " one of them," " two of 
them," " the rest of them," the preposition 
"q/"" has what is called its partitive sense. 
It may be explained by "out of" or "from 
among P Thus, "one of them" is "one from 
among them ;" " two of them " is " two 
from among them ;" " the rest of them " is 
" all from among them that do not belong to 
those already named." But, it is urged, " all 
of them" cannot be "all from among them," 
because there would be none left. Neither 


can " both of them " be said of two, because 
when you have taken both, there is nothing 

237. But let us examine this. Is it so 
certain that the "of" in the jDhrases "all of 
them," " both of them," has the same meaning 
as the "of" in the phrases "one of them," 
"two of them," "some of them"? Let us, 
for " all of them," put " the whole of them," 
and for that, " the sum total of them," or, as 
our newspapers would say, "the entirety of 
them." Now it is manifest that any one of 
these is good grammar, and that the "of" 
does not mean ""from among^'^ but implies 
" consisting of :" is spoken of the quality, as 
" sum total," or " entirety," is of quantity. 
*' The sura total of them," is as legitimate as 
" a pint of beer." Why not, then, *' all of 
them," or "both of them?" The fallacy of 
the objection here is, the assuming for the 
preposition a sense which it need not have, 
just because it had that sense in some 
phrases apparently similar. In other words, 
the mistake was, being misled by a false 

237a. "A gallows fifty cubits high," or, ''a "fifty cubits 
gallows of fifty cubits high"? The former "of fifty 


expression is used in Esther vii. 9 ; the latter high"? 


in Esther v. 14. Clearly, both of these are 
legitimate. A gallows whose height is fifty- 
cubits, may be said to be " fifty cubits high " : 
it is high, and the measure of that height is 
fifty cubits. Thus we have " a mile wide " • 
" ten thousand fathoms deep." Also, the same 
gallows may be said to be " of fifty cubits " 
(high, or, in height): the "of" being used, as 
in the phrases " she was of the age of twelve 
years" (Mark v. 42), "of a great age" (Luke 
ii. 36), to indicate the class or standard of the 
object spoken of. The gallows is high, and 
belongs to that class of things whose height 
is fifty cubits. 
Adverb be- 238. A correspondent states as his own 

tween - to " i i ^ i i • 

and the usage, and defends, the msertion of an adverb 


between the siscn of the infinitive mood and 
the verb. He gives as an instance, " to scien- 
tifically illustrate.'''* But surely this is a prac- 
tice entirely unknown to English speakers 
and writers. It seems to me, that we ever 
regard the to of the infinitive as inseparable 
from its verb. And when w-e have already 
a choice between two forms of expression, 
" scientifically to illustrate," and " to illustrate 
scientifically," there seems no good reason for 
flying in the face of common usage. 
" going ^ and 239. In a letter bearing after its address, 

■ comin: 


" N. B.," I am asked whether tlie expression 
" I am comhiff to pay you a visit " is correct : 
whether it ought not rather to be " I am 
going to pay you a visit :" and the question 
is extended to the reply, " I ara coming," 
when any one calls ; which is also supposed to 
be incorrect, and still more so when followed 
by " directly." I mentioned the address of 
the letter to account in some measure for the 
inquiry ; for it seems to me to be one which 
we Southrons should never have thought of 
making. In both cases, coming is right. In 
the former, we might use going ^ but it would 
be in the temporal sense, not in that of 
motion. But in the other, we could not say 
going at all, if we indicated approach to tlie 
person calling. An apology is almost required 
for setting down things so simple and obvious; 
but the doing so may serve to show what 
sort of usages prevail and are upheld in some 
portions of our realm. 

240. When I used, in the early part of "come to 


these notes, the colloquial expression luould 
have come to griefs I was told by one of my 
censors that it oujrht to have been would have 
gone to grief. It is not easy, perhaps, to treat 
according to strict rule what is almost a slang 
phrase, or has but lately ceased to be one ; 


still, I venture to think that to come to grief i?, 
of the two the more according to the analogy 
of our usage. We say to come to an end, not 
to go to an end; we say of a desperate young 
villain, that he will come to the gallows, not 
that he will go to the gallows. Indeed, if 
we chose, we might illustrate the difference 
between the two expressions, by saying what 
I fear is often true of the effect of our public 
executions, that going to the galloivs is but too 
likely to end in coming to the galloivs. 
otheruses 241. This usc of go and come is rather 

of "po" and 

"come." curious. We say of a wrecked ship, that she 
ivent to pieces; but of a crushed jug, that it 
came to pieces. Plants come up, come into 
leaf, come into flower ; but they go to seed, 
they go out of flower. It may be that in 
this case we regard the above-Qfround state as 
that in which we ourselves are, and the being 
in leaf and in flower as those in which we 
wish them to be, and like to think of them ; 
and so the passing into those states is a kind 
of approach to us : whereas the state of seed 
being one leading to decay, and beyond what 
is our own place and feeling as regards flowers, 
they seem to depart from us in passing into 
it Thus the sun goes in behind a cloud, and 
comes out from behind it. But we are not 


consisteut in speaking of the sun. He is said 
to go doion in the evening ; but never to come 
up in the morning. 

242. And very minute shades of meaning 
are sometimes conveyed by the use of one or 
other of these verbs. You are talking about 
a public meeting with a friend who you know 
will be there. If you say to him " I shall 
not come to the meeting," you identify him 
with those who get up the meeting, and 
imply that he is desirous you should join him 
there. If you say, " I shall not go to the 
meeting," you tacitly ignore the fact t)f his 
being about to attend, and half imply that 
he would do well to stay away also. " Are 
you coming to church to-day V implies that 
the questioner is ; " Are you going to church 
to-day ?" implies nothing as to whether he is 
or is not. To this latter question one might 
rejoin, "Yes: are you?" but not so to the 

243. In nothino: do we find more frequent misuse of 

^ ^ "whom." 

mistakes in writers commonly careful, than 
in using the accusative case of a relative pro- 
noun where the nominative ought to be used. 
A correspondent, for instance, describing what 
he thinks the disastrous effects of my advo- 
cacy of " it is ?7ie," says, " I have heard per- 


sons whom I knew were in the habit of using 
the form ' it is I,' say instead, ' it is rae.' " 
Here, the mistake is very evident. *' I knew" 
is merely parenthetical, put in by way of 
voucher for the fact — "persons who, I knew, 
were." The writer might have said, " xvhom 
I kneio to 6{'," or " to have been ;''^ but as the 
sentence stands, loho must be the nominative 
case to the verb toere. 

244. A still worse example occurred in the 
Times a short time since, in translating the 
Count de Montalembert's famous speech in 
favour of liberty of conscience. It would 
perhaps be hard to criticise a report of a 
speech ; but the sentence was quoted for espe- 
cial comment in the leading article, and no 
correction was made. It ran thus : " The 
gag forced into the mouth of tohomsoever 
lifts up his voice with a pure heart to preach 
his faith, that gag I feel between my own 
lips, and I shudder with pain." 

245. Now in this sentence, first of all it 
is clear that "whomsoever lifts" cannot be 
right. The indefinite relative pronoun ought 
to be the nominative case to the verb lifts, 
and therefore ousfht to be whosoever and not 

246. But then, how about the construe- 


tion ? " The mouth of whosoever Hfts " is 
an elliptical clause. Filled up, it will be " the 
mouth of him lohosoever lifts,^'' or, more com- 
pletely, " of him whosoever he be that lifts.'''' 
In its shortened form we have the object, 
" ^m," omitted. But we must not visit this 
omission on the unfortunate relative pronoun 
which follows, and degrade it from its place 
in the sentence by making it do the work of 
the missing member. 

247. A correspondent stigmatises the ex- "diflferent 


pression '■''different to" which he shows (I 
own I was not aware of it) has become very 
common of late. Of course such a combina- 
tion is entirely against all reason and analogy. 
*' Compare," says this writer, " any other 
English words compounded of this same 
Latin preposition, for example, ' distant,^ ' dis- 
tinct,^ and it will be seen that '■from'' is the 
only appropriate term to be employed in con- 
nection with them." The same will be seen, 
I venture to add, by substituting the verb 
"to differ'''' in the places where '''■different,^'' 
which in fact is only its participle, is thus 
joined. For instance, in the sentence quoted 
from Mr. Taylor's Convent Life in Italy, 
" Michael Angelo planned a totally different 
facade to the existing one," make this substi- 


tution, and read it, " Michael Angelo planned 
a fagade which totally differed to the existing 
one," and the error will be immediately seen. 
"in respect 248. '* III resvect of.^^ " in respect to^^ " with 

(or, regard) i- J •> i » 

oc&c respect to:'''* which of these is right? The 
question extends also to " in regard of^"* " in 
regard to,'^ " 2oith regard to^ For respect and 
regard, thoiigli far from meaning the same 
when spoken of as feelings of the mind, yet 
in their primitive meaning, which is that now 
treated of, are identical. 

249. I believe it will be found that of and 
to may be indifferently used after these words. 
Both words have the same signification ; an 
act of looking back at. The former, respect, 
is a Latin word, and the expression answering 
to " in respect of," is used in Latin. At the 
same time, the natural construction of the 
verb from which respect is derived would be 
with the preposition to {respicere ad). There 
is nothing in the meaning of the word to 
forbid either construction — with of, or with 
to. The same may be said of regard, which 
is of French origin. 

250. Still, if we agree on this much, it 
remains to be seen what preposition should 
hQ prefixed. ^^ In respect of" is the pure Latin 
construction, and seems on all hands (but see 


below) to be admitted as pure English like- 
wise. And the same with " in regard o/*;" 
" with respect to,'''' and " in respect to," are 
both found : the former I think the more 
frequently in our best writers. But, unless 
I am mistaken, " ivith resp>ect of,'''' is not found. 
251. When one of my Censors said of a 
sentence in these notes, that I had used " in 
respect q/"," for " with respect to" he surely must 
have been speaking without his authorities 
before him. He will find in the dictionaries, 
that in the scanty lists there given, Spenser, 
Bacon, Tillotson, all use the expression com- 
plained of. It occurs in Philippians iv. 11, 
and Colossians ii. 16, and is certainly as much 
used by good modern writers as that which 
he wishes to substitute for it. 

252. "What the same Censor means when "inversely 


he says that " inversely as " should be 
" inversely to,'''' I am at a loss to understand. 
I can comprehend " in inverse p)'>'oportion to," 
or " in inverse ratio to ;" but surely by all the 
usages of mathematical language, from which 
the phrase is borrowed, one variable thing 
must be said to be directly or inversely as, 
not to, another which is compared with it. 

252a. A correspondent asks the question, "contrast 
"contrast to," or "contrast withf'' It may "with." 



be answered that both of these seem allowable. 
For contrast partakes of two ideas ; that of 
opposition, and that of comparison. Now we 
oppose one thing to another, and we (com- 
monly) compare one thing with another. 
Still, as the idea of opposition is, beyond 
question, the prevalent one, I should prefer 
'■'■contrast to^ 
Meaning of 253. Nor can I Comprehend aorain what the 

'•a term." . -^ ° 

Censor above mentioned means when he says, 
in reference to my having called an adverb " a 
term," that an adverb is not a term, but a 
word, a part of a term. For the whole account 
to be given of " termj'' its derivation and its 
usage, is against him. It comes to us prox- 

, imately from the Latin terminus — directly 

from the French " terme." Both these, when 
used of language, signify, not a clause, but 
a word. And so our dictionaries give the 
meaning of the English term — " The "word 
by which a thing is expressed." 

Reason for 254. I mention this, not for the sake of 

mentioning i • i » 

these self-vindication, which torms no part of my 

objections. _ * 

desioTi in collectino: these notes, but that I 
may guard others against being misled by 
this incorrect view of the meaning of a word 
in common use. 
"I need not 255. AYitli the same end in view, I notice 


another of bis objections. "/ need not have have 


troubled myself ^ He would correct tbis to mj-seit" 
^^ I should not have needed to trouble mij self :''"' 
savins:, "the verb troubled, which you have 
put in the past, should have been in the pre- 
sent : just as the verb need, which you have 
put in the present, should have been in the 
past." Now in these words appears the cause 
of my Censor's mistake. It is the very com- 
mon one of confusing a perfect tense with 
a past one. " I need not have troubled my- 
self" is strictly correct; being equivalent to 
" I need not be in the present situation of 
having troubled myself." Every perfect is in 
fact a present. " / have troubled myself'' de- 
scribes not a past action, but the present result 
of a past action. This is now so generally 
acknowledged even by the ordinary gram- 
marians, that it is strange in our days to 
find any one who attends to the matter 
making a mistake about it. 

256. Seeing, however, that this has been Caution 


done, it may be as well to put my readers on past and 
their guard, ever to bear in mind the dis- tenses. 
tinction between the indefinite pjast and the 
perfect. I have said something on this differ- 
ence in a former paragraph ; it may be 
enough to repeat here, that while the indefi- 


nite past tense of a verb must always be 
constructed as a jmst, the perfect, consisting 
of the auxiliary " have " with the past parti- 
ciple of the verb, denotes present possession 
of the state or act described by that past 
participle, and must always be treated and 
constructed as a. present.* 
Use of the 257. One more point noticed by my Censor 

present to •*■ ^ j 

signify fixed may serve for our instruction. I had begfun 

design. '' ° 

a sentence, " The next point which I notice, 
shall be . . ." This he designates as 
" confusing the present and the future." 
Here ao;ain is a mistake as to the usasre of 
the tenses. There is a very common use of 
the present, which has regard, not to actual 
time of occurrence, but to design. '* Do you 
go abroad this year ?" " I will come unto 
you when I shall pass through Macedonia, 
for I do pass through Macedonia,"" 1 Cor. 
xvi. 5. In this sense the present was used 
in the sentence complained of. " The next 
point which I notice," means, " the next 
point coming under notice," "the next point 
which I mean to notice in my lecture." It 
is necessary for one who would write good 
grammar, and remark on the grammar of 

*See Dr. Latham's "History of the English Lan- 
guage," p. 557. 


others, to know the usages of the various 
tenses, not merely to deal with these tenses 
as they appear at first sight. 

258. " I mention it, because it may be Sentences 


that of many others besides him." This is supposed 

•^ elliptic. 

objected to by one who fills it up thus : " it 
may be a difficulty of many other people, 
besides being a difficulty of him.''^ But surely 
a moment's thought will convince any of us, 
that such a filling up, nay, that any filling up 
at all, is quite wrong, and beside the purpose. 
The pronoun " him " is governed by the pre- 
position, or transitive adverb " besides.''^ 
" Others besides him " is a clause perfect 
in itself, and needs no filling up what- 

259. And this may serve as a caution to Caution 

* . . against 

US aofainst rashness in this matter of fillinof rash and 

^ ^ positive- 

up sentences, havins: hastily assumed them assertions 

••• ' o ./ about con- 

to be elliptical. One of my critics says, struction. 

" We hear clergymen sometimes say . 

than him, than her, than them ! Only place 

the verb after such words — place the words is 

and are — and see what nonsense it makes — 

than him is, than her is, than thejn areP 

260. Here is an instance of that ao-ainst 
which I would caution my readers. This 
writer first assumes that the construction of 


the phrase is as he wants it to be, and then 
reasons on his own assumption to prove that 
the phrase is wrongly expressed. The fact is, 
that the construction in this case does not 
admit of any such filUng up. I have shown 
(in paragraph 243), by the unquestioned and 
unavoidable use of " than wliom^'' that than 
governs an accusative case directly, without 
any ellipsis whatever. That the other con- 
struction, " than he is," is an admissible one, 
cannot in the slightest degree affect the ques- 
tion whether this one is admissible or not. 
Yet I doubt not that many readers of this 
illogical critique would be deceived by its 
rash and positive character, and imagine the 
point in question to be proved, 
"con- 261. " AVhat do you wish us to under- 

struct" and 

'•coustrue/' stand by readers ^constructing'' the sentence ? 
Writers * construct ;' readers ' construe.'' " 
This is said in reference to my having written 
that we ought not "to mislead the reader 
by introducing the possibility of construct- 
ing the sentence otherwise than as the 
writer intended." And the objection is in- 
structive, as leading to the indication of the 
exact meaning and difference of the two 
words. Suppose I am examining a class of 
boys, and, with reference to a given sentence. 


direct one of tliem to construe the sentence. 
He knows perfectly well what I mean. He 
turns the sentence into English, if it be in 
any other language. But suppose I tell him 
to construct the sentence. He knows, or 
ought to know, that I mean that he is to 
explain the construction of the sentence, to 
jjive an account of its concords and govern- 
ments. Mv Censor's mistake here is, that 
he transfers the meaning of the verb '■'• con- 
struct^^'' when applied to building up what 
did not before exist, to the case of a sen- 
tence given as already existing. The word 
'■'•construing,^'' in the sentence quoted, would 
make sense, and convey a certain mean- 
ins: not very far removed from that which 
I intended: but it would not convey that 
meaning itself, that of supplying a construc- 
tion — building up the sentence with reference 
to its concords and governments. 

262. A correspondent says, "You make "ubove." 
use of the adverb '' above'' as an adjective. 
Can you use the correlative word ^ beloiv^ 
in the same sense ?" The usage complained 
of, "the above," meaning something which 
has been before spoken of, is certainly not 
elegant, though it is not uncommon. It 
may easily be avoided, by merely filling 


in the ellipsis, and saying " the above-men- 
Adjectives 263. I must Say soraethinff on the question 

used as _ ' 

adverbs. of adjectivcs iiscd as adverbs : or rather of 
the allowable forms of qualifying verbs. The 
common rule, believed in and universally ap- 
plied by the ordinary teachers of grammar, 
is, that we must always qualify a verb by 
the adverbial form, and never by the adjec- 
tival. According to these teachers, such ex- 
pressions as the following are wrong, " The 
string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake 
plainP " The moon shines hrir/ht.''' " How 
sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank." 
" Bi'eathe soft, ye winds, ye waters gently 

264. These, we ai-e told, ought to have 
been written with "jt^Zaiw/y," ''*' brightly,''' 
'''■sweetly^'' and '-'' softly P But this is a case 
where the Encflish lani^uaofe and the common 
grammarians are at variance. The sentences 
which I have quoted are but a few out of 
countless instances m our best writers, and 
in the most chaste and beautiful passages of 
our best writers, in which the usage occurs. 
On examining into it, we find that it is very 
much matter of arbitrary custom. Some 
adjectives will bear being thus used : others 


will not. Most of those which can be so used 
seem to be of one syllable ; jylam, soft, sweet, 
right, wrong, and the like. In all these cases 
it may be more precise and accurate to say 
'plainly^ softly, sweetly, rightly, wrongly, ho,., 
but we certainly can, and our best writers 
certainly do, use these and other monosyllabic 
adjectives as adverbs. Still, as far as my 
memory serves me, they do not often thus 
use adjectives of more than one syllable. 
We may say. He spake plain : but we cannot 
so well say " He spoke simple,''^ or " He spoke 
delightful.''^ We may say, " The moon shines 
bright" but we can hardly say, "The moon 
shines brilliant." What may be the reason 
for this, I do not pretend to say ; I only state 
what seems to be the fact. 

265. One of my correspondents tries to make 
all easy, by suggesting that this adverbial use 
of adjectives is entirely poetical, and ought 
never to be allowed in prose. But, begging 
his pardon, this is assuming the whole ques- 
tion. We undoubtedly have the usage in 
prose, and have it abundantly ; and this 
being so, to lay down a rule that it cannot 
be allowed in prose, is to prejudge the matter 
in dispute. 

266. An important consideration mav be Two uses of 

* adverbial 



tions, — 

and ob- 

introduced into this matter, which has not, I 
think, yet been brought to bear on it. There 
may be two uses of an adverb as quaUfying a 
verb. One of these may have respect to the 
action indicated by the verb, describing its 
mode of performance ; the other may have re- 
spect to the result of that action, irrespective 
of its mode of performance. We may, if we 
will, designate these two uses respectively the 
subjective and the objective use. And it is to 
the latter of them that I would now draw the 
reader's attention. 

267. When the adverbial term by which a 
verb is qualified is ohjectivehj used, has re- 
spect to the result, and not to the mode, of 
acting, there seems no reason why it should 
not be an adjective. Take the following: 
" Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right V 
Xow in these last w^ords, "(/o riffht,'''' we may 
take right either as an adverb, " do rightly," 
or as an adjective, "(7o that which is right, ^^ 
" do justice^ In this particular case, it does 
not appear which of the two is intended. 
But take another, Xeh. ix. 33 — "Thou hast 
done right, but we have done wickedly." 
Here it seems almost certain, from the 
parallelism, that right is meant to be used 


268. Now pass on to the other cases in 
which the adjective is used. " He spake 
plain." " That which he spake Avas /)Zam." 
"He spake (that which was) plain.'''' Here 
again it is immaterial to the logical sense 
whether we take adjective or adverb. " They 
love him that speaketh right," Pro v. xvi. 13. 
And from these let us advance yet further 
to those cases where the adjectival sense is 
not so plainly applicable, but still may be 
in the thoughts. " The moon shines bright." 
Here it is plain, that the qualifying word 
bright refers not so much to the mode in 
which the moon performs her function of 
shining, as to the result or product of that 
shining : it is rather objective than sub- 
jective. "The moon is giving light, and 
that light is bright." " Breathe soft " is just 
as easily understood, " Breathe that which is 
soft," as " Breathe softly." 

269. This after all seems to be the logical 
account of the usage : and by the rules of 
thought, not by the dicta of the ordinary 
grammarians, must all such usages be ulti- 
mately judged. 

270. The account above given will at once "lookino; 

sadly," ic. 

enable us to convict of error such expres- 
sions as " looking sadly," " smelling sweetly," 


"feeling queerly." For in all these we do 
not mean to qualify the mode of acting or 
being, but to describe the result produced 
by the act or state. To " smell sweetly " is 
not meant to describe some sweet way of 
performing the act of smelling, but is meant 
to describe that the smell itself is sweet. 
And in this case the verb is of that class 
called neuter-substantive, i. e., neuter, and akin 
in construction to the verb substantive " to 
6e." " The rose smells sweet,'''' is in construc- 
tion much the same as ^^the rose is sweets 
"You look sad'''' is equivalent to "yow seem 
to be sad.''"' And so of the rest, 
"it would 271. Speaking of an expression which was 


oddly." the subject of remark in one of my lectures, 
I said, "it would read rather oddly.'''' This 
was objected to as a violation of the rule 
above mentioned. It w^as not really so, I here 
used the word "read" in an unusual sense, 
but at the same time one fully sanctioned 
by usage : in the sense of " affect the hearer 
when read." So that it is not a strict neuter- 
substantive, but a word anomalously used, 
and used in such a sense as to require the 
adverb rather than the adjective. 

Osage in 272. What lias been said hitherto applies to 


and super- the positive degree of comparison only ; when 


we pass beyond that to tlic comparative and lative 


superlative, another consideration comes in. 
All adverbs do not admit of degrees of com- 
parison. That many do, is acknowledged. 
Oftener^ oftenest^ seldomer, seem to be good 
English words. But these exceptions are rare. 
We cannot say sijnplier, brightlier, plainlicr. 
And in consequence, when we want to express 
comparative and superlative degrees of qualifi- 
cation of a verb, we commonly have recourse 
to one of two other constructions : we either 
take the resolved comparative and superla- 
tive, more plainly, most plainly, or we take 
the comparative and superlative of the cor- 
responding adjective. Thus, for instance, we 
have ''^weW as the adverb of good: we can- 
not say '■'"weller'''' and '''' wellest :'''' we do not 
say '''"more welV and '■'■most well:'''' but we go 
back to the adjective, and we say, for our 
comparative and superlative adverbs, better 
and best. So, too, whereas we may, in the 
positive degree, say either "the moon shines 
bright,^'' or "the moon shines brightly,^'' we 
should say, in the comparative and superlative, 
not "the sun shines more brightly, and the 
fire shines most brightly,^'' but, "the sun shines 
brighter, and the fire shines brightesty Take 
another example. When I wrote (see below, 


parao^raph 380): "If with your inferiors, speak 
no coarser than usual ; if with your superiors, 
r\o finer ;''"' my language was characterized as 
being ungrammatical, because we cannot say 
'■'■to sjieah coarse.'''' True: but, as we have 
seen, what cannot be done in the positive, 
must be done in the other degrees of com- 
parison : and my sentence was strictly correct, 
and according to usage. In this case, too, there 
was no choice open between the two forms, 
the resolved and the adjectival comparative. 
Had I written, "speak no more coarsely," 
"speak no more finely," the conjunction of 
"speak" with "no more" would have been 
awkward, as suggesting a temporal meaning 
which was foreign (see paragraph 301) to the 
construction of the sentence. And had I 
adopted the form of expression which my 
Censor recommends, " speak not more coarsely 
than usual," I might have escaped indeed his 
censure, but not the charo-e of havini; written 
pompous and pedantic English, 
"a decided 273. Exception is taken to an expression 


point." occurring in these notes, "a decided weak 
point." But tliere can be no doubt that my 
Censor is wrong. A '^ decided! f/ weak poiyit'''' is 
one thing; a "d'xided iveak j^olnt'" is another. 
There is a difference, according as we regard 


the adverb as qualifying only the adjective, 
or the adjective and substantive together. 
" There occurs in his book a remarkable pre- 
fatory announcement." Who would think of 
saying " a remarkably prefatory announce- 
ment?" Thus also in the phrase under 
consideration, had I written *' a decidedly 
weak point " I should have spoken of a point 
decidedly weak ; but writing as I did a de- 
cided weak point, I spoke of a weak 2^oint 
of whose existence there could he no doubt. 

274. If we use our powers of observation, Anomalies, 
we shall find in the usage of adjectives and 
adverbs, as in other usages, many things 
which follow no rule but that of custom, and 
of which it is very difficult to give any reason- 
able account. I mention this to show hovv 
inadequate the laws of ordinary grammar are 
to regulate or even to describe our practice. 

2*75. Take but one example out of many; "long"' and 

" short."' 

the use of the adjectives lony and short, with 
reference to adverbial construction. Long is 
an adverb as well as an adjective. AVe say 
" How long," speaking of time. " Paul was 
long speaking." We have no adverb "/o7^/7Z?/," 
though w^e have ^^ widely, ^^ '■^broadly,'''' ^'-deep- 
ly.'''' Now observe the adjective " shorts Its 
use as an adverb is hardly legitimate. Your 


banker asks you whether you will take it short, 
when you present a cheque to be cashed ; but 
this use is a technical one. But what I wish 
to observe is, that the adverb ^^ shortly'''' is by 
our usage limited to one department only of 
the meanings of the adjective, viz., that of 
time ; and in that department, to time future. 
We cannot use shortly of time past ; we cannot 
use it of duration — '■'he preached shortly;''^ 
but we must use it of that which is to come, 
" I hope shortly to see you." 
"just now." 276. This mention of adverbs of time re- 
minds me of an expression which usage has 
assigned to time past, as it has that other to 
time future. '•'■Just noiu^^'' in its strict mean- 
ing, imports, nearly at the present moment, 
whether before or after. Yet our general 
usage has limited its application to a point 
slightly preceding the present, and will not 
allow us to apply it to that which is to come. 
If we are asked " When V and we reply 
"Just now," we are understood to describe 
an event past, not an event future. 

277. In this case we have the double use 
of the term preserved in provincial usage. In 
the midland and northern counties we have 
such a sentence as " I'll be with you just 
now," which is perfectly right in logical 


precision, though proscribed by English 

278. Tlie use of the indicative and sub- Subjunctive 

and indica- 

lunctive moods, after conditional particles, as tive moods 


?y and whether^ is a wide subject, and one on ai sentences, 
which considerable uncertainty seems to pre- 
vail. The general rule appears plain enough : The general 

. rule. 

that when matter of fact is concerned, we 
should use the indicative : when matter of 
doubt, the subjunctive. " Whether I he mas- 
ter or you, one thing is plain." Here we have 
doubt: it is left in uncertainty which of the 
two is master. " You shall soon see whether 
I am master, or you." Here there is no 
uncertainty : your eyes shall see and be en- 
lightened as to a fact, of which the speaker at 
all events has no doubt. 

279. The same rule has been thus clearly stated by 

,_,, . ,, . ' Dr. Latham. 

laid down by Dr. Latham: " ihe following 
method of determining the amount of doubt 
expressed in a conditional proposition is use- 
ful : insert, immediately after the conjunction, 
one of the two following phrases : (1) as is 
the case ^ (2) as may or may not be the case. By 
ascertaining which of these two supplements 
expresses the meaning of tlie speaker, we 
ascertain the mood of the verb which follows. 
When the first formula is the one required, 



there is no element of doubt, and the verb 
should be in the indicative mood. If (a^ is 
the case) he is gone^ I must follow him. When 
the second formula is the one required, there 
is an element of doubt, and the verb should 
be in the subjunctive mood. If (as may or 
may not be the case) he be gone, I must follow 
isrnoranceof 280. When a correspondent said of the 

this rule. 

first sentence m my second lecture, ** If a man 
values his peace of mind, lot him not write on 
the Queen's English," that I ought to have 
written " If a man value his peace of mind," 
he apparently was in ignorance of this very 
plain rule. For that every man does value 
his peace of mind, is of course assumed, and 
the phrase to be supplied is the former one 
in Dr. Latham's rule. " If (o^ is the case) a 
man values his peace of mind." 
This rule 281. But this rulc, satisfactory as it is for 

]i(?rhap> un- _ 

known to a 2;uide, does not seem to have been known 

onr older *" 

writers. to our oldcr writers. Our translators of the 
Bible notoriously do not observe it. In cases 
where the original (and the rule is not one 
belonging to English only, but to the condi- 
tions of thought) has the indicative, and the 

* History of the English Language, p. 646. 


missing phrase clearly must be, " as is the case,'''' 
they have used the subjunctive. An instance 
of this is found in Col. iii. 1, "If ye then be 
risen with Christ . . . ;" which according to 
the original ought to be " If ye then are 
risen." The fact, that those addressed are 
thus risen, is proved in the previous chapter, 
and the Apostle proceeds to ground upon it 
the exhortations that follow. "If (as is the 
case; as I have proved) ye are risen with 
Christ." Many more instances might be given 
to shew, that our translators almost univer- 
sally used the subjunctive mood after condi- 
tional particles, where we should now use the 

282. Sometimes they seem to use the two 
moods indifferently. An example is found in 
Job xxjrt. 5 — 10. "If I have walked with 
vanity, or my foot hath hasted to deceit: let 
me," &c. " If my step hath turned out of the 
way, and my heart walked after mine eyes, 
and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands ; 
then let me," &c. So far is indicative. But 
Job goes on in the same strain, and our trans- 
lators in the next place adopt the subjunctive, 
" If mine heart have been deceived by a 
woman .... then let," &c. 

283. In some places, they seem to have 


observed tlie rule. " If now thou hast under- 
standing, hear this." — Job xx-xiv. 16. 

284. The same irregularity appears to 
prevail in their construction of verbs after 
" though." Take as an example Col. ii. 5 : 
" Though I be absent in the flesh." Here 
the Apostle is asserting his absence as a fact, 
and the Greek verb is in the indicative, as 
by the ordinary rule the English should be 
also : " Though (as is the fact) I am absent 
in the flesh." 
Bias former- 285. I bclieve it will be found, on the 

ly to the 1 1 1 1 • 

subjunctive, wholc, that there is a decided bias on the 
part of our translators to the use of the sub- 
junctive mood. I do not of course speak of 
the use of "be" as an indicative, as in 
2 Kings ix. 9 : " Ye be righteous." This 
sometimes brings in ambiguity as to which 
mood is actually used in a conditional sen- 
tence : as in Gen. xlii. 19, "If ye be true 
men." But I speak of the prevalence of the 
use of undoubted subjunctives, determined to 
be so by the auxiliary, or by the form of the 
verb itself. 

but now to 286. But if there was a bias then in favour 

the indica- 
tive, of the subjunctive, the bias is as decidedly 

now against it. Our conditional sentences in 

common talk are almost all expressed in the 


indicative. " I don't know whether I shall be 
at the committee ; but if I am, I will mention 
it." This every one says. "If I 6e," would 
sound pedantic. We all say/" whether it is, 
or not, I cannot say :" not " whether it be." 
And so of other conditional sentences. 

287. Here then we seem to have a pheno- Phenome- 

non to be 
menon, instructive to those who are more observed. 

anxious to watch the actually flowing currents 
of verbal usage, than to build up bounds for 
them to run in. We have a well known 
logical rule, prevailing in our own and in 
other languages, and laid down by gram- 
marians as to be followed. But it would 
seem that it never has been followed univer- 
sally : that it has not regulated the language 
of the Book in commonest use, and yet that 
the language of that book speaks intelligibly 
to us. And more than this : for while that 
book violates the rule almost uniformly in 
one direction, we ourselves as uniformly violate 
it in the other. 

288. W^hile speakino; upon the indicative Verb after 

■^ ° ^ . "that" 

and subjunctive moods, I may notice that without an 


the use of the bare verb without " may^'' or 
^^micjhi^'' or '•'' should,''^ after the conjunction 
" that^'' which we not unfrequently meet 
with in the English version of the Bible, and 


in the Common Prayer-book, is not ungram- 
matical, nor is it to be corrected by inserting 
the apparently missing auxiliary verb, as I 
have heard some clergymen do in readinof. 
The verb thus used was the old form of the 
subjunctive, now generally supplanted by the 
resolved form with the auxiliary. Thus when 
we pray " that our hearts may be unfeignedly 
thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise 
not only with our lips but in our lives," the 
verb "shew" is as truly in the subjunctive as 
the verb " be" in " that I be not ashamed," 
or the verb " slip" in "hold thou up my 
goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip 
not." That this is so, is conclusively shown 
by consulting the older versions. In John 
XV. 2, for example, " he purgeth it, that it 
may bring forth more fruit," is, in Wiclif's 
version, " he shall purge it that it here the 
more fruvt." In ver. 16, "that whatsoever 
ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he 
may give it you," is " that whatever things 
ye axen the fadir in my name, he give to 
you :" and so on, wherever the auxiliary is 
found in the more modern version. 
Singniars 289. We will now pass on to another 

and riiirals. 

matter — the use of singulars and plurals. 
It is a general rule, that when a verb has 


two or more nominative cases to which it 
belongs, it must be in the plural number. 
But let us take care what we mean by this 
in each case. When I say " John and James 
are here," I mean " John is here, and James 
is here ;" but when I say, " the evening and 
the morning were the first day,'''' I do not mean 
" the evening was the first day, and the 
morning was the first day," but I mean " the 
evening and the morning together made up the 
first dayy So that here is an important 
difference. I may use a plural verb when it 
is true of both its nouns separately, and also 
when it is only true of them taken toge- 
ther. Now how is this in another example ? 
Am I to say " two and tivo are four,'''' or " two 
and two is four T' Clearly I cannot say are 
in the first explanation, for it cannot be true 
that two is four and two is four. But how 
on the second? Here as clearl}" I may be 
grammatically correct in saying " two and 
two are four," if, that is, I understand some- 
thing for the two and the four to apply to: 
two apples and two apples make {are) four 
apples. But when I assert the thing merely 
as an arithmetical truth, with no ajyples, I do 
not see how '■''are'''' can be right. I am saying 
that the sum of two numbers, which I express 


by two and two, is, makes up, another number, 

four; and in all abstract cases, where we 

merely speak of numbers, the verb is better 

singular: two and two "is" four, not "are." 

"twice one 290. The last case was a somewhat doubt- 
are two." 

ful one. But the following, arising out of it, 

is not so : — We sometimes hear children made 
to say, " twice one are two." For this there 
is no justification whatever. It is a plain 
violation of the first rules of grammar ; " twice 
one'''' not being plural at all, but strictly sin- 
gular. Similarly, " three times three are 
nine" is clearly wrong, and so are all such 
expressions ; what we want to say being simply 
this, that three taken three times makes up, 
is equal to nine. You may as well say, " nine 
are three times three," as "three times three 
are nine." 
Cases not 291. There still are cases in which those 


who do not think about the composition of a 
sentence may find a difficulty as to whether a 
singular or a plural verb should follow two 
nouns coupled together by " and.'''' The diffi- 
culty arises from the fact that '■'• and'''' has 
many meanings. Sometimes it imports addi- 
tion : sometimes it merely denotes an appo- 
sition, or simultaneous predication of two 
characters or qualities belonging to one and 


the same thing. And it is in this latter case 
that a difficulty arises, and a mistake is often 
made. Take, for instance, this sentence, 
where the writer is speaking of the cheapness 
of Bibles at the present day : " The only 
revelation of God's will to mankind, and the 
only record of God's dealings with men, is now 
to be obtained for a sura which a labouring 
man might save out of one day's wages." 
Now what is meant by this sentence is, " That 
book, which is the only revelation of God's 
will to men, and at the same time the only 
record of God's dealings with men, is now to 
be obtained," (fee. One thing, and not two, is 
the subject of the sentence. Yet in a precisely 
similar sentence of my own the other day, 
the people at the printing-office, more studious 
for the letter of grammar, than for the spirit 
of thought, corrected is into are. And observe 
the effect on the meaning. If I say, " The 
only revelation of God's will to men, and the 
only record of God's dealings with men, are 
to be obtained," &c., I convey the idea that 
I am speaking of two books, one containing 
the only revelation of God's will, the other, 
the only record of his dealings. It is obvious 
that the writer might have cast the sentence 
into another form, and having said that the 


Bible contains the only revelation of God's 
■will, and the only record of God's dealings, 
might have gone on to say, "Both these are 
to be obtained," &c. ; but constructed as the 
sentence now is, the singular verb, and not the 
plural, is required to express his meaning. 

292. Take another case. In Psalm xiv. 
7, we read, " Destruction and unhappiness is 
in their ways:" in Psalm Ixxiii. 25, "My 
flesh and my heart failethr Again, as was 
remarked by the critic in the "Times" of 
September 29th, 1863, in censuring the 
modernizations in the Cambridge Shakspeare, 
Shakspeare wrote " His steeds to water at those 
springs on chaliced flowers that lies ;" and 
Prospero is made to say, " lies at my mercy all 
mine enemies." How are these apparent 
violations of grammar to be accounted for ? 
Account 293. Simply, I believe, by regarding the 

of these 

usages. sense of the sentences. In each of them, 
one and the same act is predicated of a num- 
ber of persons or things, considered as one. 
In the two former sentences, these things are 
nearly synonymous : \\\ the two latter, they 
are classed together. In either case, the act 
is one : and this fact seems to have ruled the 
verb in the singular, instead of the more 
usual plural. It has been mentioned before 


in these notes, that in the Greek language a 
plural of the neuter gender takes after it a 
singular verb. The things composing it are 
considered as forminor one mass rather than a 
plurality of individuals, and the verb is ruled 

294. Care is required in the use of several Use of cer- 

tain con- 
coniunctional and prepositional particles. The junctional 

'' •*■ ^ ■*■ particles. 

first of these which I shall notice is " except.^'' 
Except means ivith the exception of: and 
exempts from some previous list, or some 
previous predication, the substantive or sub- 
stantives, or clause or clauses, before which it 
is placed. " All ivere pleased, except Juno ;" i. e., 
" iviili the exception of Juno!!'' '^^i " J'^'^o being 
excepted^ And on this account, we must 
take care that the person or thing excepted 
be one which would have been included in 
the previous category, if the exception had 
not been made. 

295. This rule is violated in the following violation of 
sentence taken from a newspaper : " Few 
ladies, except Her Majesty, could have made 
themselves heard," (fee. For how is the word 
"except" here to be understood? From 
what list is Her Majesty excepted, or taken 
out? Clearly not from among the/ei^ ladies 
spoken of. Had the sentence stood " All 


ladies, except Her Majesty, would have proved 
unequal to," <fec., it would have been con- 
structed rightly, though clumsily ; what it 
meant to express was that " Few ladies besides 
Her Majesty, could have" done what was 
spoken of: and " besides'''' should have been the 
word used. Besides (by the side of) does not 
subtract, as except does, but adds ; and thus 
we should have the sense required : viz., that 
very few ladies added to Her Majesty, — besides 
her, — could have done the thing spoken of. 
TJseof "fx- 296. There is a use of cxeept, which was 

cept" for 1 • 1 

"unless." once very common, but is now hardly ever 
found : that, I mean, by which it stands for 
'■'■unless^ "I will not let thee go, except 
thou bless me." This usage is quite legiti- 
mate : amountino; in fact to savinof, " In no 
case will I let thee go, excepted only that in 
which thou shalt bless me." This is found 
constantly throuQ:hout the Eno-lish version of 
the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in 
the New. 

^without." 297. Without is another word used in some- 
what the same meaning. As in the other 
cases, its prepositional use has led to its con- 
junctional. Take the following sentence from 
Sir Philip Sidney: "You will never live to 
my age, without you keep yourselves in breath 


with exercise, and in heart with joy fulness." 
In this, ''^without you keep'''' is in fact a con- 
struction compounded of ^'■loifhout keeping,'''' 
and '•'■ unless'''' or '■'■except you kcep^ 

298. What are we to think of the expres- "a mutual 


sion, "a mutual friend? What is '■'• mutual V 
Much the same as " reciprocal^ It describes 
that which passes from each to each of two 
persons. Thus for example, when St. Paul 
says to the Romans (i. 12), "That I may be 
comforted together with you by the mutual 
faith both of you and me," the meaning is, in 
English, "by my confidence in you and your 
confidence in me." And that our translators 
meant this to be understood is clear : for 
they deliberately altered the previous versions 
to this form. Wiclif had " bi faith that is 
bothe youre and myn to gidre :" Tyndall, 
"through the common faith which bothe ye 
and I have :" so also Cranmer and the Geneva 

299. And mutual ought never to be used, 
unless the reciprocity exists. " The mutual 
love of husband and wife " is correct enough : 
but " a mutual friend of both husband and 
wife" is sheer nonsense. A common friend 
is meant; a friend that is common to both. 
The word mutual has no place or assignable 


meaning in such a phrase, and yet we occa- 
sionally find it used even by those who pride 
themselves on correct speaking, 
"we will 300. There is an expression frequently 

write you." • • ii v 

used m correspondence, prmcipally by mer- 
cantile men : " we will write you^'' instead of 
" we will write to you ;" " icrite me at your 
earliest convenience," instead of " lorite to me^ 
Is this an allowable ellipsis ? It is universally 
acknowledofed that the "to" of the so-called 
dative case may be dropped in certain con- 
structions : " He did me a favour ;" " He 
sent me a birthday present ;" " He wrote me 
a kind letter;" "The Lord raised them up 
deliverers." In all these cases, the object 
or act which the verb directly governs is 
expressed. But if it be omitted, the verb 
at once is taken as governing the personal 
pronoun or substantive, of which the dative 
case is thus elliptically expressed. Thus : 
"He sent me" would mean, not "He sent 
to me," but he sent, as his messenger, me. 
" The Lord raised them up," would imply, 
not that he raised up some person or thing 
for them, but that He lifted them up them- 

301. And so, when we drop the substantive 
directly governed by the verb in the phrase, 


"He wrote me a letter," or "he wrote me 
word," and merely say " he wrote me," we 
cannot properly understand the sentence 
in any other way, than that " me " is 
g07ern.ed by the verb ^^ wrote." That this is 
nonsense, is not to the purpose. The con- 
struction of such a phrase necessarily halts, 
and is defective, not only elliptical. We should 
say in all cases, " tvrite to me-," or " 2vrite me 
word^" or the like ; never barely " write me," 

302. Very curious blunders in construction "and 


are made by the careless use of " and " with 
the relative pronoun, coupling it to a sentence 
which will not bear such coupling. I take 
these two instances from one and the same 
page of a charitable report : " The Board 
offer their grateful acknowledgments for the 
liberal support hitherto so freely extended, 
and which has so greatly contributed to this 
satisfactory result." "It was feared that the 
untimely death of the surgeon to the hospital, 
occurring as it did so very shortly after its 
opening, and to whose untiring energy the 
Institution mainly owes its existence, might 
seriously affect its future prospects and 

303. Now in both these instances the con- 
junction " and " is wholly mmeeded, is indeed 



quite in the way of the construction. Two 
clauses connected by "and" must be similarly 
constructed. You cannot say, " Then I went 
home and which is quite true." Yet this is 
the construction of both the sentences quoted : 
and the fault is one of the very commonest 
in the writing of careless or half-educated 

304. In the Times of this very day, Nov. 
11, 1863, I find the following sentence, occur- 
ring: in the translation of M. Casimir Perrier's 
letter to the President of the Legislative 
body : " I hoped to procure the original 
placard which was posted on the walls of 
Grenoble on that occasion, hut which I have 
been unable to do." 

The followinor " Form of Order" is distri- 
buted widely by a London publisher : — 
" Please send me a copy of the Shakespeare 
Memorial, and for which / enclose Eighteen 
Postage Stamps^ I was surprised to find, that 
Murray's Handbooks for Italy abound with 
this vulgarism, 
"one" 305. There is an unfortunate word in our 

joined to i . i /. • i 

•*hi8."' language, which few can use without very 

soon going wrong in grammar, or, which is 
worse, in common sense. It is the word " one," 
used in the sense of the French " ow," or the 


German, " man^'' and meaning people in 

"What one has done, when one was young, 
One ne' er will do again ; 
In former days one went by coach, 
But now one goes by train." 

So far, "owe" is pretty sure to be right. 
It is only when this is carried on further, that 
the danger arises. Suppose I wanted to put 
into English the saying of the French gour- 
mand, which, by the way, I am glad an 
Englishman did not originally utter: "Avec 
cette sauce on pourrait manger son propre 
pere ;" — how am I to express mj'self ? In 
other words, how am I to take up the "one" 
with the possessive pronoun, or with any 
possessive, in English ? The French, we see, 
say, " With this sauce one could eat his own 
father." Is this an English usage (I don't 
mean the meal, but the grammar) ? I believe 
not, though it is becoming widely spread in 
current literature. 

" In such a scene one might forget his cares, 
And dream himself, in poet's mood, away." 

And one of my correspondents says, "When 
writing on language, grammar, and composi- 
tion, one ought to be more than usually 

Q 2 


particular in his endeavours to be himself 

These sentences do not seem to me to be 
right. Having used " o;ic," we must also use 
*'07ze'5" cares, and "owe's" self. We must 
say, at the risk of sacrificing elegance of 

"In such a scene one might forget one's cares, 
And dream one's self, in poet's mood, away." 

The fact is, that this " one " is a very- 
awkward word to get into a long sentence. 
I have sometimes seen it in our newspapers, 
followed not only by " he " and " Ais," but by 
''theif and " their',' and " we^' and '' our^' in 
all stages of happy confusion, 
"didn't 306. There is another word in our common 

T1S6 ^' 

"hadn't English very difiicult to keep right. It is 
the verb "," signifying to be accustomed. 
" I used, to meet him at my uncle's." When 
the verb is affirmatively put in this manner, 
there is no difficulty, and no chance of going 
wrong. These arise when we want to put 
it in the negative ; to speak of something 
which we were not accustomed to do. And 
then we find rather curious combinations. 
I ''didn't use,"" I ''hadn't used," T "wasn't 
used," This latter would be legitimate 


enough, if the verb were '■'■used to,'''' mean- 
ing " accustomed hy use to.'''' We may say, 
" / wasnH used to the practice.'''' But it will 
be plain that it is a different meaning of 
which I am now speaking. A friend tells 
me that in his part of the world the people 
say, " didn't use to was :" and a midland 
correspondent, that he has heard in his town, 
even in good society, the phrase, '■'■used to 
could. ''^ 

307. If you ask me what we are to say in 
this case, I must reply that I can answer very 
well on paper, but not so well for the pur- 
poses of common talk. " / used " is negatived 
by ^^ I used not.'''' But unfortunately, this ex- 
pression does not do the work in common 
talk. " I used not to see him at my uncle' s^^'' 
does not convey the idea that it was not your 
habit to meet him there. It rather means, 
that he was there, but that for some unex- 
plained reason you did not see him. You 
meant to express, not something which it was 
your practice not to do, but something which 
it was not your practice to do. ^'' I never used" 
is better, but it may be too strong. I am 
afraid there is no refuge but in the inelegant 
word " usednUj''^ to which I suppose most of 
us have many times been driven. 


"riding"' or 308. Riding ov driving ? This question has 

" driving.'" 

been asked by several correspondents, in con- 
sequence of my stor}-, told further on, of a 
benevolent old gentleman " riding in his 
carriage.'''' I am asked whether this ought 
not to have been " driving,'' seeing that 
riding cannot properly be predicated except 
of persons on horseback. But there is not 
necessarily any such limitation of the mean- 
inor of the word to ride. It comes cer- 
tainly from a time when the employment 
of wheels was almost unknown : but from 
centuries ago has been applied to any kind 
of locomotion in which a person or thing 
is borne, whether on an animal, or in a 
carriage, or as when used of a ship on the 
water. A road is a broad path on which 
people may ride on horses and in vehicles : 
a road, or rade, for ships, is a part of the sea 
where they may ride, or be borne at anchor. 
"We have in Jer. xvii. 25, "Riding in chariots 
and on horses :" and such, as may be seen in 
the dictionaries, is the usage of all English 
"I take it" 309. It is a curious symptom of our having 
fororotten the usaores of the best ao^e of 
English, that several correspondents should 
have objected to my having written "/ take 


e7," signifying, "such is my opinion." For it 
is constantly found, from Shakspeare onwards, 
in this sense : and the sense is amply justified 
by other cognate usages of the verb to take : 
such as, to take it well or ill, to take it in good 
part^ to take a man for his brother, and the 
like. The fact of such an objection having 
been made, shows the necessity for upholding 
our plain nervous colloquial English against 
the inroads of modern fine language. It 
would be a loss instead of a gain if '■'■I take it,'''' 
were to be superseded by '■'• I apprehend '^'^ or, 
as we should be sure to have it pronounced, 
*■'• I happryendy 

310. Another correspondent inquires re- « the 
specting the construction of such sentences as revolving." 
the following : — " Day and night are a conse- 
quence of the earth revolving on its axis." 

He maintains, that here, revolving is a verbal 
noun equivalent to revolution, and that we 
ought to say, "A consequence of the eartKs 
revolving on its axis." He believes that he 
has proved this by the test of substituting 
the pronoun for the earth, thus : " Day and 
night on our earth are a consequence of its 
revolving on its axis," where he rightly says 
no one would think of saying it revolving. 

311. At first sight this appears decisive. 


But let us examine a little further. It is 
somewhat curious that, in this last sentence, 
we may leave out the possessive pronoun, 
without obscurino: the sense. " Our earth 
enjoys day and night as a consequence of 
revolving on its axis." To which a rejoinder 
may be made, " of luhat revolving on its 
axis ?" and the answer is " the earth^'' not 
" the earth'' s^ We may, if we wish, regard 
the earth revolving on its axis as a description 
of an idea set before the mind. The fact 
indicated by that idea, viz., that the earth 
does so revolve, produces as a consequence 
day and night. Day and night, in other 
words, are a consequence of that fact so indi- 
cated : i. e., of the earth revolving on her axis. 

312. I believe, then, that both forms are 
correct in point of construction : and a writer 
will use one or the other, according as euphony 
admits or requires. In an instance which 
my correspondent cited from my fii*st paper, 
where I say that " the profusion of commas 
prevented the text being understood," it is 
plain that "the text's being understood" 
would have been harsh and ill-sounding. I 
believe that, as a general matter of choice, I 
rather prefer the form of the sentence to 
which my correspondent objects. It may be 


that my ears are accustomed to the Greek 
and Latin construction, which is according to 
this form and not to the other. 

313. A correspondent finds that the news- "predicate" 
papers are m the habit of using ^^ predicate"' diet/' 
where they mean ^^ predict. ^^ I have not ob- 
served this ; but it may be well to say, that to 
predicate is simply to afiirm this or that of 
anything, whereas to predict is to foretell a 

future event. 

314. There are certain cases where either 
word might be used without a fault. And 
such is the very instance cited by my corre- 
spondent : — " It is impossible to predicate 
what the result will be." The writer very 
likely meant, to predict ; but he might have 
intended to say, that no one can predicate 
this or that probable result. If so, he ex- 
pressed himself clumsily, but did not fall into 
the error complained of. 

315. "//*" for ''^ whether.^'' is another mis- "if" for 

•^ . -r. "whether." 

take which I am asked to pomt out. But 
this usage, though it may not be according to 
our modern habit, is found in our best writers ; 
and I cannot see that there is anything to 
complain of in it. Under the word "?/," 
in Johnson, we have, cited from Dryden : 
" Uncertain if by augury or chance." 


And from Prior, 

"doubting if she doubts or no." 

We also read (Gen. viii. 8) that Xoah " sent 
forth a dove from him, to see if the waters 
were abated from off the face of the groimd." 
"seldom or 316. Another of my correspondents is 

never."' '' ^ 

offended with '■'■ seldom or never ^"^ and prefers 
''''seldom^ if every It seems to me that the 
two express the same idea in slightly differing 
ways, but that both are perfectly legitimate. 
The one is analogous to " very little^ or not at 
all^"* the other to " very little, if at ally 

"Ukeido." 317. <'Z/^e'," uscd as an adverb, is also 
brought under my notice, and the complaint 
in this case is not without reason. ^''Like I 
do now^'* '■'•nice he was^'' '•'■like we are^"* are 
quite indefensible, and are avoided by all 
careful speakers and writers. The mistake 
has been occasioned by the legitimate use of 
"Z/^e" as an adjective at the beginning of a 
sentence, where it means *' like to^ You may 
say, '■^ Like David, I am the youngest of my 
family:" but you may not say, '^^ Like David 
was, I am the youngest of my family." 

Nouns of 318. ^oujis of numhcr nvQ also proposed as 

number. _ ' 

a subject for treatment. I am supposed to 
have written incorrectly "When the band of 


French Guides were in this country ;" and 
the opinion is supported by reminding me 
that we say " There was a large congregation," 
not " there were a large congregation." Most 
true : and from the consideration of this 
example we may derive something like a rule 
in such cases. In saying " there was a large 
congregation,'''* I am speaking of the assembly 
as a whole. If I were saying anything which 
suggested the idea of the individuals com- 
posing it, I should use, not the singular verb, 
but the plural. I should hardly say, " the 
congregation was not all of the same ojyinion,'*^ 
but " the congregation ivere not all of the same 
opinion^ The slightest bias either way will 
influence a writer, when using such words, 
towards a singular or a plural verb. I should 
say, that in the case complained of, perhaps 
it was the fact of " Guides,'''' in the plural, 
being the word immediately preceding the 
verb, that induced me to put it in the 
plural ; or perhaps the knowledge that I was 
about to speak of the band throughout the 
following sentences, as " they^'' " the French- 
Tfien^'* (fee. 

318a. '-'-PeopW'' and '■^persons.'''' A corre- " People " 
spondent wishes me to observe, that the former sons." 
of these terms signifies an aggregate of persons, 


and that we ouglit never to say several people, 
but always several persons. I own I cannot 
find that this distinction is entirely borne out. 
Bacon, as adduced by Johnson, says, " If a 
man temper his actions so as to content everij 
combination of people, the musick will be the 
fuller:'' in which sentence, ^'' lyeopW'' seems to 
be used for '■^persons.'''* Still, it is a distinc- 
tion which it is worth while to remember : for 
doubtless it is so far just, that it represents 
the general import of the two words. 
"I know 319. Another correspondent is puzzled by 

nothing by ^ i x ^ 

myself/' ex- my hayinor said that *' a man who talks of 

plained. '' ^ 

Aristobulus in the lesson, is as likely as not to 
preach from St. Paul's, '/ knoio nothing hy 
myself,^ to show us that the apostle wanted 
divine teaching, and not to be aware that he 
meant he was not conscious of any faulty My 
correspondent cannot conceiye how the words 
can have any other meaning, than that the 
apostle had no knowledge of his own. His 
difficulty (and I mention it because it may be 
that of many others besides him) is that he 
has missed the peculiar sense of the preposi- 
tion " 6y," as here used. It beai*s the sense of 
"o/j" in the words '-'■I know no harm ofhimy 
This is still in the midland counties, ^^ I know 
no harm hy himy We have a somewhat 


similar usage in the Prayer-book version of 
Ps. XV. 4, ''''He that setteth not hy himself ^^^ i. e., 
is not self-conceited, setteth not store by bim- 
self, as we even now say. I bave beard a 
parisb clerk pronounce tbese last words, " he 
that sitteth not hy himself'' in allusion, I sup- 
pose, to tbe Squire's pew. To return to "/ 
know nothimj by myself.^'' Tbe meaning is 
decided for us by tbe original Greek, wbich is 
simply, "I am conscious of no fault:" and it 
is plain tbat tbe words of tbe Englisb version 
were so understood wben tbey were first writ- 
ten ; for Dr. Donne, in King James tbe First's 
time, preacbes on tbem, and quotes tbem over 
and over again, in tbis sense. 

320. A correspondent wbo gives me bis "the three 

' poys ' just 

name voucbes for tbe following anecdote. I mentioned." 
own I bad fancied it was an old story : but so 
many tbings related in Joe Miller bave hap- 
pened again witbin ray own experience, tbat I 
must not too readily admit a doubt of my 
correspondent's accuracy. "My friend," be 
says, " happened to be present one Sabbath in 
a parisb church some miles north of Aberdeen, 
the clergyman of which (a true Gael) read to 
his hearers a portion of the book of Daniel, 
containing tbe names 'Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abednego.' Tbe reverend gentleman 


finding some difficulty in delivering himself of 
these vocables, resolved not to attempt the 
task a second time, but simply referred to 
Hhe three "^^oys" just mentioned.'' " 

I have received another and fuller account 
of this kind of abbreviation, certified "with the 
name of the hearer, which is a guarantee for 
its accuracy. In this case the officiating cler- 
gyman said, " same three gentlemen^'' and in- 
stead of repeating the details of instruments, 
" sackbut, psaltery," &c., read, " music as 
"religion in 321. In illustration, not of the habit of 

the arm- . • i i • 

chair." misprououucmg, but, what is worse, of mis- 
understanding, another correspondent assures 
me that he heard a man, pretending to be 
a teacher of the Gospel, preach on what he 
called "Religion in the arm-chair," his text 
being (1 Tim. v. 4), ^^Let them learn first to 
show inety at home ;" where the word '•'' piety ^'' 
as the margin of the English Bible would have 
informed him, means merely ^^ kindness to 
their relations,'''' and has nothing to do with 
religion in the stricter sense. 

322. A correspondent sends me the follow- 
ing. "A placard is to be seen in a certain 
farmyard in this county : — 

" ' There is a place for everything, and 


everything for a place. Any person offending 
as^ainst these rules will forfeit 2d.' " 

323. By-the-by, what are wc to think of "the right 

man in the 

the phrase which came in during the Crimean "g'lt place." 

war, " The right man in the right i^lace " ? How 

can the right man ever be in the wrong place ? 

or the wrong man in the right place? We 

used to illustrate the unfitness of things by 

saying that the round man had got into the 

square hole, and the square man into the 

round hole ; that was correct enough ; but it 

was the xmtting incongruous things together 

that was wrong, not the man, nor the hole. 

324. This puts me in mind of the servant "Ms wrong 

■II • • ^ ^ ^ • slippers." 

at school once coming mto the schoolroom, m 
consequence of some interchange of slippers, 
and calling out, " Has any gentleman got his 
wrong slippers .<^" Now, if they were his, they 
were not wrong; and if they were wrong, 
they were not his. 

325. In the same note, my friend sends me 
the following: A Mr. Crispin of Oxford an- 
nounced that he sold " boots and shoes made 
by celebrated Hoby, London." Mr. Hoby, 
irate, put into the Oxford paper : " The boots 
and shoes Mr. Crispin says he sells of my 
make is a lie." 

326. Some odd descriptions of men have Ambignous 


descriptions been forwarded me, arising from the ambigu- 

ofmen. _ ^ ^ 

ous junction of compound words. In two or 
three places in London, we see '^'■Old and New 
Bookseller'''' — an impossible combination in one 
and the same man; but of course meaning a 
seller of old and new books. Another trades- 
man describes himself as " Gas-holder and 
Boiler-rtiaker^'' meaning that he makes gas- 
holders and boilers, but giving the idea that 
he undertakes to contain gas himself. We 
had in Canterbury a worthy neighbour, who 
advertised himself as " Indigenous Kentish 
Herbalist ;" meaning, of course, not that he 
was born amongst us, but that he made hcrhs 
indigenous in Kent his study. 

327. I have lying on my table a note just 
received, in the following words : " R. C. begs 
to apologise for not acknowledging P. O. order 
at the time (but was from home), and thus 
got delayed, misplaced, and forgotten." 

A correspondent sends me the following 
note : " Mrs. A.'s compliments to Mrs. B., and 
begs to say that C. lived with her for a year 
and found her respectable, steady, and honest" 
"by apply- 328. *'''By doijKj a thing, ^"^ for ^^ifhetcill do 
ity^ is noticed by a friend as a common error 
in Scotch papers. 

" Found on board the steamer ' Vulcan,' a 


gold locket. The owner may have it by giving 
the date, when lost, and paying expenses." 

"Found, in Stockwell Street, on Friday 
early, a gold or gold-plated Geneva watch. 
The owner may have the same on proving his 
property, by applying to Mr. R. B., 166, 
Hospital Street." 

329. Is it right, a correspondent asks, to "wants ^ 
say " his hair wants cutting," " the lawn wants 
mowing?" I should say, undoubtedly. His 

hair wants a certain act performed on it. 
"What is that process called? Cutting. The 
word is, of course, a present participle, but it 
is used almost as a substantive. Thus we 
say, " the first and second mowings of the lawn 
were difiicult, the third was easier." Thus, 
too, we speak of a "flogging;" of "readings" 
of Shakspcare, &c. '■'• He wants his hair 
cutting'''' cannot be similarly defended, nor 
indeed at all; it ought to be, "he wants his 
hair cuty 

330. But I now come, from the by-rules Deteriora- 

tion of the 
and details of the use of the lanaruasre, to language 

^ = ' itself. 

speak of an abuse far more serious than those 
hitherto spoken of; even the tampering with 
and deteriorating the language itself. I be- 
lieve it to have been in connexion with an 
abuse of this kind, that the term " the King's 



English" was first devised. We know that 
it is a crime to cHp the King's coin ; and the 
phrase in which we first find the term which 
forms the subject of our essay, is, '■'■ clippinr/ 
the King's English.'''' So that it is not im- 
probable that the analogy between debasing 
language and debasing coin first led to it. 
Sources of 331. Now in this case the charge is two- 

our Ian- ^ ^ ^ 

guage, fold; that of clipping, and that of beating 

out and thinning dow^n the Queen's English. 
And it is wonderful how far these, especially 
the latter, have proceeded in our days. It is 
well to bear in mind, that our English comes 
mainly from two sources; rather, perhaps, 
that its parent stock, the British, has been 
cut down, and grafted with the two scions 
which form the present tree : — the Saxon, 
through our Saxon invaders; and the Latin, 
through our Norman invaders. Of these two, 
the Saxon was, of course, the earlier, and it 
forms the staple of the language. Almost all 
its older and simpler ideas, both for things 
and acts, are expressed by Saxon words. But 
as time went on, new wants arose, new arts 
were introduced, new ideas needed words to 
express them ; and these were taken from the 
stores of the classic languages, either direct, 
or more often through the French. We all 


remember tliat Gurtli and Wamba complain, 
in '* Ivanlioe," that the farm-animals, as long 
as they had the toil of tending them, vrerc 
called by the Saxon and British names, ox, 
sheejJ, calf, P^9 j but when they were cooked 
and brought to table, their invaders and lords 
enjoyed them under the Norman and Latin 
names of hecf, mutton^ veal, and pork. This 
is characteristic enough ; but it lets us, in a 
few words, into an important truth. Even so 
the language grew; its nerve, and vigour, 
and honesty, and manliness, and toil, mainly 
brought down to us in native Saxon terms, 
Avhile all its vehicles of abstract thought and 
science, and all its combinations of new re- 
quirements as the world went on, were clothed 
in a Latin garb. To this latter class belong 
all those larger words in -ation and -atious, the 
words compounded with ex and in and super, 
and the like. 

332. It^ would be mere folly in a man to 
attempt to confine himself to one or other of 
these two main branches of the language in 
his writing or his talk. They are inseparable ; 
welded together, and overlapping each other, 
in almost every sentence which we use. But 
short of exclusive use of one or the other, 
there is a very great difference in respect 

R 2 



Process of 
tion : 

of the amount of use between writers and 
speakers. He is ever the most effective 
writer and speaker, wlio knows how to build 
the great body of his discourse out of his 
native Saxon ; avaiUng himself indeed of 
those other terms without stmt, as he needs 
them, but not letting them give the character 
and complexion to the whole. 

333. Unfortunately, all the tendency of 
the lower kind of -writers of modern English 
is the other way. The lanofuao^e, as known 
and read by thousands of Englishmen and 
Englishwomen, is undergoing a sad and rapid 
process of deterioration. Its fine manly Saxon 
is getting diluted into long Latin words not 
carrymg half the meaning. This is mainly 
owing to the vitiated and pretentious style 
which passes current in our new^spapers. The 
writers in our journals seem to think that a 
fact must never be related in print in the 
same terms in which it would b§ told by 
word of mouth. The greatest oflfenders in 
this point are the country journals, and, as 
might be expected, just in proportion to their 
want of real ability. Xext to them comes 
the London penny press ; indeed, it is hardly 
a whit better ; and highest in the scale, but 
still by no means free from this fault, the 


regular London press — its articles being for 
the most part written by men of education 
and talent in the various political circles. 
The main offence of the newspapers, the head 
and front of their offending, is, the insisting 
on calling common things by uncommon 
names; changing our ordinary short Saxon 
nouns and verbs for lono; words derived from 
the Latin. And when it is remembered that in what 


this is very generally done by men for the 
most part ignorant of the derivation and strict 
meaning of the words they use, we may ima- 
gine what delightful confusion is thus intro- 
duced into our language. A Latin word 
which really has a meaning of its own, and 
might be a very useful one if confined to that 
meaning, does duty for some word, whoso 
significance extends far wider than its own 
meaning; and thereby to common English 
hearers loses its own proper force, besides 
utterly confusing their notions about the 
thing which its new use intended to re- 

334. Our journals seem indeed determined Dialect of 

. ourjournals. 

to banish our common Saxon words alto- 
gether. You never read in them of a man, 
or a woman, or a child. A man is an " indi- 
vidual^'' or a '•''person,'"' or a " party ;'''' a 


\roman is a '■'-female;''^ or if unmarried, a 
'■'•young inrson^'' which expression, in the 
newspapers, is always of the feminine gender; 
a child is a '■'•juvenile^'' and children en masse 
are expressed by that most odious term, " the 
rising generation^ As to the former words, 
it is certainly curious enough that the same 
debasing of our language should choose, in 
order to avoid the good honest Saxon man^ 
two words, '■'■individual'''' and '■' party ^'' one 
of which expresses a man's unity, and the 
other, in its common untechnical use, belongs 
to man associated. And why should a icoman 
be degraded from her position as a rational 
being, and be expressed by a word which 
might belong to any animal tribe, and which, 
in our version of the Bible, is never used 
except of animals, or of the abstract, the sex 
in general ? T\'hy not call a man a " 77iaZe," 
if a woman is to be a '■'■ female " / 
"party."" 335. The word j!?ar^y for a man is especially 

offensive. Stranore to say, the use is not 
altogether modern. It occurs in the English 
version of the apocryphal book of Tobit vi. 7, 
" If an evil spirit trouble any, one must make 
a smoke thereof before the man or the woman, 
and the party shall be no more vexed." And 
in Shakspeare ("Tempest," act iii. sc. 2): 


Stephano : How now shall this be compassed ? 
Canst thou bring me to the party ? 

Caliban : Yea, yea, my lord : I'll yield him thee 
asleep, where thou may'st knock a nail into his head. 

And a correspondent quotes from Archbishop 
Ussher that, relating how he had been 
obhged to rebuke one of his clergy, he writes, 
" I sent for the party, and upon conference 
had with him, I put him in mind," &c. I once 
heard a venerable dignitary pointed out by a 
railway porter as " an old party in a shovel.^'* 
Curious is the idea raised in one's mind by 
hearing of ^'- a short party going over the bridge.^'' 
Carious also that raised by an advertisement 
SLmt me ; " Wanted, a party to teach a young 
man d.2a\Q,mg privately. Apply, (fee." 

336. I have said that party ^ in its common Technical 

sense of 

untechnical use, siirnifies man associated. But '-party." 
we must remember that it has a technical 
use also. " I don't think," says a correspon- 
dent, " that party must mean ' man associated,'' 
but that it means one or more persons as re- 
garded in relation to one or more others : and 
that by following out this, the passages in 
'Tobit' and the 'Tempest' maybe cleared, 
w^ithout giving any countenance to bagman's 
English. The ^jar^iVs (partes) in a lawsuit 
may be each a single person : and a clergy- 
man who ffives out a notice about 'these 



' partake." 

parties being joined together " although he 
is wrong in departing from the Prayer- 
book, does not seem to me incorrect in lan- 
proceed." 337. The newspaper writers never allow us 
to go anywhere, we always proceed. A man 
going home, is set down as " an individual 
proceeding to his residence.''' 

338. We never eat, but always partake, 
even though we happen to eat up the whole 
of the thing mentioned. In court, counsel 
asks a witness, "Did you have anything to 
eat there ?" " Yes." " What was it ?" " A 
bun." Now go to the report in the paper, 
and you'll be sure to find that " witness con- 
fessed to having partaken of a bun," as if 
some one else shared it with him. 

330. We never hear of a ^;/ac6 ; it is 
always a localitj/. Nothing is ever placed, 
but always located. " Most of the people of 
the place " would be a terrible Milgarism to 
these gentlemen ; it must be " the majority of 
the residents in the locality.^'' 

340. Then no one lives in rooms, but always 
m " apartments.^'' '* Good lodgings " would be 
far too meagre ; so we have *' eligible apart- 

341. Xo man ever shows any feeling, but 

' locality.' 



always " evinces " it. This " evince,^'' by the way, 
is one of the most odious words in all this 
catalogue of vulgarities, for such they really 
are. Everybody " evinces " everything. No one 
asks^ but '"''evinces a desire.^'' No one is hurt, 
but ^^ evinces a sense of suffering^'' No one 
thanks another, but " evinces gratitude.'''' I 
remember, -when the French band of the 
" Guides," were in this country, to have read 
in the Illustrated Neics^ that as they pro- 
ceeded^ of course, along the streets of the 
metropolis (we never read of London in polite 
journals), they were vehemently (everybody 
does everything vehemently) cheered by the 
assembled populace (that is the genteel name 
for the people). And what do you suppose 
the Frenchmen did in return? Of course, 
something very different from what English- 
men would have done under similar circum- 
stances. But did they toss up their caps, 
and cry, Vive V Angleterre '? The Illustrated 
News did not condescend to enter into such 
details ; all it told us was, that they " evinced 
a reciprocity " / 

342. Again, we never begin anything in the '• com- 


newspapers now, but always commence. I read 
lately in a Taunton paper, that a horse " com- 
menced kicking.'''' And the printers seem to 



think it quite wrong to violate this rule. 
Repeatedly, in drawing up handbills for cha- 
rity sermons, I have written, as I always do, 
"Divine service will begin at so and so ;" but 
ahnost always it has been altered to " com- 
mence ;" and once I remember the bill being 
sent back after proof, with a '■'■ query ^ com- 
mence P'^ written against the word. But even 
commence is not so bad as *' take the initiative^'' 
which is the newspaper phrase for the other 
more active meaning of the verb to begin, 

eventu- 343. Another horrible word, which is fast 

getting into our language through the pro- 
vincial press, is to ^^ eventuate.'*'* If they want 
to say that a man spent his money till he was 
ruined, they tell us that his unprecedented 
extravagance eventuated in the total dispersion 
of his property. 

avoca- 344. " Avocation " is another monster patro- 

nised by these writers. Now avocation, which 
of itself is an innocent word enough, means the 
being called a i^'ay from something. We might 
say, " He could not do it, having avocations 
elsewhere." But in our newspapers, allocation 
means a man's calling in life. If a shoemaker 
at his work is struck by lightning, we read, 
that " while pursuing his avocation, the electric 
Jluid penetrated the unhappy man's person^ 



345. ^''Persuasion'''' is another word vcrv "persua- 

commonly and very curiously used by them. 

We all know that persuasion means the fact of 
being persuaded^ by argument or by example. 
But in the newspapers, it means a sect or way 
of belief. And strangely enough, it is most 
generally used of that very sect and way of 
belief, whose characteristic is this, that they 
refuse to be persuaded. We constantly read 
of the '■'■ Hehreio persuasion^'' or the '■'■ Jeioish 
persuasion.'''' I expect soon to see the term 
widened still more, and a man of colour 
described as " an individual of the negro per- 

346. Not only our rights of conscience, but "tosus- 

111 1 • •^ ^ tain." 

even our sorrows are invaded by this terrible 
diluted English. In the paper^a man does 
not now lose his mother : he " sustains (this I 
saw in a country paper) bereavement of his 
maternal relative.'''' By the way, this verb to 
sustain is doing just now a great deal of work 
not its own. It means, you know, to endure, to 
bear up under ; to sustain a bereavement, does 
not properly mean merely to undergo or suffer 
a loss, but to behave bravely under it. In 
the newspapers, however, " sustain'''' comes in 
for the happening to men of all the ills and 
accidents possible. Men never break their 


legs, but they ahvays " sustain a fracture " of 
them ; a phrase which suggests to one the 
idea of the poor man with both hands holding 
up the broken limb to keep it straiglit. 
" 10 expe- 347. Akin to sustain is the verb to experience, 


now SO constantly found in our newspapers. 
No one feelsy but experiences a sensation. Now, 
in the best English, experience is a substan- 
tive, not a verb at all. But even if it is to be 
held (see above, paragraph 148), that the 
modern dialect has naturalized it, let us have 
it at least confined to its proper meaning, 
which is not simply to feel, but to have per- 
onal knowledge of by trial.* 

" to accord. 348. Another such verb is to " accord,^'' which 
is used for '•^ award^^'^ or " adjudge." " The prize 
was accorded ^"^ we read, " to so and 5o." If a lec- 
turer is applauded at the end of his task, w^e are 
told that "a comp>lete ovation was accorded him.'''' 

"to entail." 349. Entail is another poor injured verb. 
Nothing ever leads to anything as a conse- 
quence, or brings it about, but it always 
entails it. This smells strong of the lawyer's 
clerk ; as does another word which we some- 
times find in our newspapers, in its entirety 
instead of all or the ivhole. 

* I read the other day in the Times, that the weather 
had experienced a change ! 


350. Desirability is a terrible word. I "desira- 

. . . bility," 

found it the other day, I think, in a leadino- '-dispie- 

*^' ' * nishing," 

article in the Times. And a correspondent 
sent me a quotation from the Standard^ m 
which displenishing occurs. 

351. i?e?fa6Ze is hardly legitimate. We do "reliable." 
not rely a man^ we rely ujyon a man ; so that 
reliable does duty for rely-upon-ahle. " Trust- 
worthy " conveys all the meaning required. 

352. Allude to is used in a new sense by "allude." 
the journals, and not only by them, but also 

by the Government offices. If I have to com- 
plain to the Post-Office that a letter legibly 
directed to me at Canterbury has been mis- 
sent to Caermarthen, I get a regular red-tape 
reply, beginning " The letter alluded to by 
you." Now I did not allude to the letter at 
all ; I mentioned it as plainly as I could. 

353. I send a sentence to a paper to the Examples of 

the deterio- 

foUowing effect : — " When I came to the spot, ration. 
I met a man running towards me with his 
hands held up." Next day I read, " When 
the very rev. gentleman arrived in close prox- 
imity to the scene of action, he encountered 
an individual proceeding at a rapid pace in 
the opposite direction, having both his hands 
elevated in an excited manner." 

354. This is fiction ; but the following are 


truth. In a Somersetshire paper I saw that 
a man had had his legs burned by sitting for 
warmth, and falling asleep, on the top of a 
lime-kiln. The lime was called the " seething 
mass " (to ^^ seethe ^^ means to boil, — and " 5ao?," 
or '■^ sod den, '^^ is its passive participle) ; and it 
was said he would soon have been a calcined 
corpse, which, I take it, would have been an 
unheard-of chemical phenomenon. 

355. In the same paper I read the follow- 
ing elegant sentence : — " Oar prognostications 
as regards the spirit of the young men here to 
join the Stogursey rifle-corps proves correct." 
The same paper, in commenting on the Hop- 
ley case, speaks through a whole leading 
article of corporeal punishment. I may men- 
tion that, in this case, the accused person 
figures throughout, as so often in provincial 
papers, as a " demon incarnate,'^ and " a Jiend 
in human shaped 

356. In travelling up from Somersetshire 
I find the directors of the Great "Western 
Railway thus posting up the want of a school- 
master at their board : " £5 reward. Whereas 
the windows of the carriages, <fc:c. "Whoever 
will give information as shall lead to conviction^ 
shall receive the above reward ;" as being used 
for ichich : " the man as told Twe." 


357. The South-Eastern directors seem to 
want the schoolmaster also. On the back of 
the tickets for the fast trains, we read the 
following precious piece of English grammar : 
— " This ticket is not transferable, only avail- 
able for the station named thereon." This 
implying, of course, that using it for the 
station named on it, is jiart of the process of 
transferring it to some other person. 

358. On a certain railway the following 
intelligible notice appears : — " Hereafter, when 
trains moving in an opposite direction are 
approaching each other on separate lines, 
conductors and engineers will be required to 
bring their respective trains to a dead halt 
before the point of meeting, and be very 
careful not to proceed till each train has 
passed the other." 

359. In the Morning Chronicle's account 
of Lord Macaulay's funeral occurred the fol- 
lowing sentence : — " When placed upon the 
ropes over the grave, and while being gra- 
dually lowered into the earth, the organ again 
pealed forth." Here, of course, on any possi- 
ble grammatical understanding of the words, 
it was the organ which was placed over the 
grave, and was being lowered into the earth. 
Akin to this was the following notice, sent to 


mj house the other day by a jeweller : — "The 
brooches would have been sent before, but 
have been unwell." 
A monster 360. After one of Mr. Glaisher's balloon 


ascents, we read that, " After partaking of a 
hearty breakfast, the balloon was brought into 
the town amidst the cheers and conijratula- 
tions of the major part of the inhabitants." 
They may well have applauded a balloon which 
had performed so unheard of a feat, 
"so fully 361. In a leading article of the Times^ not 

proved. _ ^ _ 

than . . " long since, was this beautiful piece of slipshod 
English : — 

" The atrocities of the middle passage, 
which called into action the Wilberforces and 
Clarksons of the last generation, were not so 
fully proved, and were certainly not more 
harrowing in their circumstances, than are the 
iniquities perpetrated upon the wretched 

362. Here you will observe w^e are by the 
form of the sentence committed to the combi- 
nation of " were not so fully proved . . . than." 
This is a fault into which careless writers con- 
stantly fall : the joining together two clauses 
w^ith a third, whose construction suits the latter 
of them, but not the former. " He was more 
popular, but not so much respected as his 


father." Nothing can be easier than to avoid 
the fault. Transpose your third clause, letting 
it follow your first, and constructing it with- 
out reference to your second. " He was more 
popular than his father, but not so much 
respected." The mind of the hearer easily 
fills up the ellipsis after "respected," and the 
sentence sounds well. Thus the Times' 
writer might have said, " were not so fully 
proved as are the iniquities perpetrated 
upon the wretched Chinese, and were cer- 
tainly not more harrowing in their circum- 

363. There is another way, making the 
sentence correct indeed, but exceedingly 
clumsy. We may say, " He was more popular 
than, but not so much respected as, his 
father." But to my mind, this is almost 
worse than the incorrect sentence. It exhibits 
punctiliousness in all its stolidity, without 
any application of the sound, or effect, of the 

364. And just let me, as I pass, notice one Excuse of 

hasty writ- 
defence which has been deliberately set up for ing, 

English of this kind. It has been said that 

one who sits in his study, writing, at leisure, 

may very well find time to look about him 

and weigh the structure of his sentences ; but 



that the contributors of articles to the daily 
press are obliged to write always in a hurry, 
and have no such opportunities of consider- 

365. Now this plea either fails in its object 
of excusing the practice complained of, or it 
proves too much. It fails, if it does not 
assign sufficient cause for the phenomenon : 
if, as I believe, it is not mere haste which 
causes a man to write such English as this, 
but deficiency in his power of putting thoughts 
into words : it proves too much, if it really 
does sufficiently excuse the writers ; for if 
such writing is the inevitable result of the 
hasty publication of these critiques, why is 
not more time given for their production, and 
why are not more pains bestowed on them? 
For surely it is an evil, for a people to be daily 
accustomed to read English expressed thus 
obscurely and ungrammatically : it tends to 
confuse thought, and to deprive language of 
its proper force, and by this means to degrade 
us as a nation in the rank of thinkers and 
speakers. • 

Wonderful 366. I am indebted for the following to 

capacity t>f a rr< •» r m ^ 

windmill, a correspondent : — " To Millers. — To be 
let, a windmill, containing three pair of 
stones, a bakehouse, corn shop, and about 


five acres of land, dwelling house, and gar- 

366a. In the Times^ a few days since, an Ghosts sum- 
moned by 
advertisement thus ended : " If dead, his wife advertise- 

or children may apply." 

367. The following sentence, occurring in Powers of a 

night watch- 

a hotel advertisement, may serve to illustrate man. 
a very common mistake : " Its night-watch- 
man enables gentlemen to be called at any 
time, and, hourly patrolling the building, adds 
greatly to the comfort and security of all." 
Now we are sensible of an absurdity here. 
But what is the mistake ? It is not, you see, 
that some word, which to any ordinary reader 
has but one application, maij be so combined 
as to bear other applications : but the incon- 
gruity is inevitable. A man who hourly 
patrols the building enables gentlemen to be 
called at any time : i. e., by some arrange- 
ment which he makes, puts it in their power 
to be called, by somebody. Whereas the inten- 
tion plainly was to notify that, owing to the 
fact of a night-watchman being employed, 
gentleman can bo called at any time by the 
night-watchmen. The mistake is one easy to 
understand, though called by rather a hard 
name. It is the confounding of the abstract 
with the concrete. The fact of the night- 



watchman being employed is in its nature 
abstract : is a consideration apart from persons 
and things which put it forth in action. This 
fact is independent of the particular man 
employed as night-watchman, and is the 
source of the advantages arising from it, who- 
ever may happen to be so employed. 
Inflated Ian- 368. I have received more than one letter 

srnage in 

prayers. from a gentleman who is much troubled by 
the inflated language of a book of prayers 
used in a school of small and ignorant boys. 
It would not become me to bring forward, as 
subjects for mirth, sentences and phrases 
whose meaning is so solemn : I can only deal 
with the complaint in a general way. And in 
doing so, I may say that there can hardly be 
a graver offence in the compilers of books of 
devotion, than this of using hard words and 
inflated sentences. If there is one essential 
requisite in a written prayer, it is that it 
provide as much as possible for every word 
being understood and felt by those that are 
to use it. My correspondent tells me that 
the writer of whom he complains invariably 
uses felicity for happiness, avocations for 
employments, and the like. If I might pre- 
sume to counsel the teachers of schools and 
heads of families, I would sav, cast aside 


every book of prayers wliicli offends in tliis 
way. The simple and well-known collects of 
the Prayer-book, or even your own sense of 
the wants of your school or household, will 
furnish you with better, because more easy 
and real lano^uag-e of devotion than these hiirh- 
flown manuals. And in default of either of 
these resources, I may venture to say that a 
school or a family rising from the reverent 
utterance of the Lord's prayer only, will have 
really prayed more, than one which has been 
wearied with ten minutes of a form such as 
that of which my correspondent complains. 

369. Another criticism which I cannot help Nicknames 

. . „ . . and expres- 

makmg, is on the practice of usmg, in general sionsofen- 


society, unmeaning and ridiculous familiar 
nicknames or terms of endearment. A more 
offensive habit cannot be imagined, or one 
which more effectually tends to the disparage- 
ment of those who indulge in it. I find myself, 
after the departure of the ladies from the 
dininof-room, sittinor next to an ao^reeable and 
sensible man. I get into interesting conver- 
sation with him. We seek a corner in the 
drawing-room afterwards, and continue it. 
His age and experience make him a treasure- 
house of information and practical wisdom. 
Yet, as talk trieth the man, infirmities begin 


to appear here and there, and my respect for 
my friend suffers diminution. By-and-by, a 
decided weak point is detected : and further 
on, it becomes evident that in the building: 
up of his mental and personal fabric there is 
somewhere a loose stratum which will not 
hold under pressure. At last the servants 
begin to make those visits to the room, 
usually occurring about ten o'clock, which 
begin with gazing about, and result in a rush 
at some recognised object, with a summons 
from the coachman below. I am just doubt- 
ing whether I have not about come to the 
end of my companion, when a shrill voice 
from the other side of the room calls out, 
" Sammy, love !" All is out. He has a wife 
who does not know better, and he has never 
taught her better. This is the secret. The 
skeleton in their cupboard is a child's rattle. 
A man may as well suck his thumb all his 
life, as talk, or allow to be talked to him, 
such drivellinfT nonsense. It must detract 
from manliness of character, and from proper 
self-respect : and is totally inconsistent with 
the good taste, and consideration, even in the 
least things, for the feelings of others, which 
are always present in persons of good breeding 
and Christian courtesv. Never let the world 


look through these chinks into the boudoir. 
Even thence, if there be real good sense 
present, all that is childish and ridiculous will 
be banished ; but at all events keep it from 
the world. It is easy for husband and wife, 
it is easy for brothers and sisters, to talk to 
one another as none else could talk, without 
a word of this minced-up English. One soft 
tone, from lips on which dwells wisdom, is 
worth all the "loveys" and " deareys" which 
become the unmeaning expletives of the 

370. And as we have ventured to intrude Taikinir 


into the boudoir, let us go one step further to children. 
up, and peep into the nursery also. And here 
again I would say, never talk, never allow to 
be talked, to children, tlie contemptible non- 
sense which is so often the staple of nursery 
conversation. Never allow foolish and un- 
meaning nicknames to come into use in your 
family. We all feel, as we read of poor 
James I., with his " Steenie " for the Duke of 
Buckingham, and "Baby Charles" for his 
unfortunate son, that he cannot have been 
worthy to rule in England. We often find 
foolish names like these rooted in the practice 
of a family, and rendering grown-up men and 
women ridiculous in the eyes of strangers. 


And mind, in saying this, I have no wish to 
proscribe all abridgments, or familiar forms 
of names for our children, but only those 
which are unmeaning or absurd. I hold 
"Charley " to be perfectly legitimate : " Harry " 
is bound up with the glories of English history : 
Ned, and Dick, and Tom, and Jack, and Jem, 
and Bill, though none of them half so nice as 
the names which they have superseded, are 
too firmly fixed in English practice and 
English play, ever to be banished. Kate has 
almost become a name of itself ; few maidens 
can carry the weight of Eleanor, whereas there 
never was a lass whom Nelly did not become. 
The same might be said of Milly and Amelia, 
and of many others. Bat the case of every 
one of such recognised nicknames differs 
widely from that, where some infantine lisping 
of a child's own name is adopted as the desig- 
nation for life : or where a great rifleman 
with a bushy beard is called to hold his 
mamma's skein of wool by the astounding 
title of "Baby." 
Sir J— M— 371. All perhaps do not know the story of 

and the tired ,,.1,1 1 ,,. . -rr 

nurse. the kind old gentleman and his carriage. He 

was riding at his ease one very hot day, when 
he saw a tired nursemaid toiling along the 
footpath, carrying a great heavy boy. His 


heart softened: he stopped his carriage, and 
offered her a seat : adding, however, this : 
" Mind," said he, " the moment you begin to 
talk any nonsense to that boy, you leave my 
carriao^e." All went well for some minutes. 
The good woman was watchful, and bit her 
lips. But alas ! we are all caught tripping 
sometimes. After a few hundred yards, and 
a little jogging of the boy on her knee, 
burst forth, " Georgy porgy ! ride in coachy 
poachy !'' It was fatal. The check-string 
was pulled, the steps let down, and the 
nurse and boy consigned to the dusty foot- 
path as before. 

372. This story is true. The person 
mainly concerned in it was a well-known 
philanthropic baronet of the last generation, 
and my informant was personally acquainted 
with him. A similar story, a correspondent 
reminds me, is told of Dr. Johnson. 

373. As I am sending these sheets to the Extract 

from the 

press, I receive a copy of the Leeds Mercury Leeds Mer- 

. . . . cunj. 

for Nov. 12, 1863, containing a leading article 
under the title of " English for the English," 
which touches on an abuse of our language 
unnoticed in these pages, but thoroughly de- 
serving of reprobation. It is so appropriate 
to my present subject that I shall venture 


to cite a large portion of it almost as it 

374. " While the Dean," the writer says, 
" took so much trouble to expose one danger 
with which our mother tongue is threatened, 
he took no notice whatever of another peril 
which to us seems much more serious. He 
dealt only with the insubordinate little ad- 
verbs and pronouns of native growth, which 
sometimes intrude into forbidden places, 
and ignored altogether the formidable inva- 
sion of foreign nouns, adjectives, and verbs 
which promises ere long to transform the 
manly English language into a sort of 
mongrel international slang. A class of 
writers has sprung up who appear to think 
it their special business to ' enrich ' the 
language by dragging into it, without any 
attempt at assimilation, contributions from 
all the tonjTues of the earth. The result 
is a wretched piece of patchwork, which 
may have charms in the eyes of some 
people, but which is certainly an abomina- 
tion in the eyes of the genuine student of 

375. " We need only glance into one of the 
periodical representatives of fashionable lite- 
rature, or into a novel of the day, to see how 


serious this assault upon the purity of the 
English language has become. The chances 
are more than equal that we shall fall in 
with a writer who considers it a point of 
honour to choose all his most emphatic words 
from a French vocabulary, and who would 
think it a lamentable falling off in his style, 
did he write half a dozen sentences without 
employing at least lialf that number of foreign 
words. His heroes are always marked by an 
air distingue ; his vile men are sure to be 
biases; his lady friends never merely dance 
or dress well, they dance or dress a merveille ; 
and he himself when lolling on the sofa under 
the spirit of laziness does not simply enjoy 
his rest, he luxuriates in the doles far niente, 
and wonders when he will manage to begin 
his magnum opus. And so he carries us 
through his story, running off into hackneyed 
French, Italian, or Latin expressions, when- 
ever he has anything to say which he thinks 
should be graphically or emphatically said. 
It really seems as if he thought the English 
language too meagre, or too commonplace a 
dress, in which to clothe his thoughts. The 
tongue which gave a noble utterance to the 
thoughts of Shakespere and Milton is alto- 
gether insufficient to express the more cos- 


mopolitan ideas of Smith, or Tomkins, or 
Jenkins !" 

376. "We have before us an article from 
the pen of a very clever writer, and, as it 
appears in a magazine which specially pro- 
fesses to represent the ' best society,' it may 
be taken as a good specimen of the style. It 
describes a dancing party, and we discover for 
the first time how much learning is necessary 
to describe a ' hop ' properly. The reader is 
informed that all the people at the dance 
belong to the beau monde, as may be seen af 
a coup (Toeil ; the demi-monde is scrupulously 
excluded, and in fact everything about it 
bespeaks the haut ton of the whole aflair. A 
lady who has been happy in her hair-dresser 
is said to be coiffee a ravir. Then there is the 
bold man to describe. Having acquired the 
savoir /aire, he is never afraid of making a 
faux 7;a5, but no matter what kind of con- 
versation is started plunges at once iii 
medias res. Following him is the fair debu- 
tante^ who is already on the look-out for un 
ban parti, but whose nez retrousse is a decided 
obstacle to her success. She is of course 
accompanied by mamma en grande toilette, 
w^ho, enti-e nous, looks rather ridee even in the 
gaslight. Then, lest the writer should seem 


frivolous, he suddenly abandons the descrip- 
tion of the dances, vis-a-vis and dos-a-dos, to 
tell us that Homer becomes tiresome when he 
sings of Bocbnc: -drvca "Hprj twice in a page. 
The supper calls forth a corresponding amount 
of learning, and the writer concludes his 
article after having aired his Greek, his Latin, 
his French, and, in a subordinate way, his 

377. " Of course, this style has admirers 
and imitators. It is showy and pretentious, 
and everything that is showy and pretentious 
has admirers. The admixture of foreign 
phrases with our plain English produces a 
kind of Brummagem sparkle which people 
whose appreciation is limited to the superficial 
imagine to be brilliance. Those who are 
deficient in taste and art education not un- 
frequently prefer a dashing picture by young 
Daub to a glorious cartoon by Raphael. The 
brijrht colourins: of the one far more than 
counterbalances the lovely but unobtrusive 
grace of the other. In a similar way, young 
students are attracted by the false glitter of 
the French-paste school of composition, and 
instead of forming their sentences upon the 
beautiful models of the great English masters, 
they twist them into all sorts of unnatural 


shapes for no otlicr end than that they may 
introduce a few inappropriate French or Latin 
words, the use of which they have learned to 
think looks smart. Of course, the penny-a- 
liners are araonirst the most enthusiastic 
followers of the masters of this style. They 
not only think it brilliant, but they know it 
to be profitable, inasmuch as it adds consider- 
ably to their ability to say a great deal about 
nothing. The public sees a great deal in the 
newspapers about ' recherche dinners ' and 
* sumptuous dejeuners ' (sometimes eaten at 
night), and about the cclat with which a 
meeting attended by the ' elite of the county ' 
invariably passes off; but they get but a 
trifling specimen of the masses of similar 
rubbish which daily fall upon the unhappy 
editors. The consequence of all this is that 
the public is habituated to a vicious kind of 
slang utterly unworthy to be called a lan- 
guage. Even the best educated people find 
it diflBcult to resist the contagion of fashion 
in such a thing as conversation, and if some 
kind of stand is not made against this inva- 
sion, pure English will soon only exist in the 
works of our dead authors."* 

* A correspondent says, " In your next edition pray 


378. "But it is not only on literary grounds 
that we think the bespanglement of our lan- 
guage with French and other foreign phrases 
is to be deprecated. Morality has something 
to say in the matter. It is a fact that things 
are said under the flimsy veil of foreign diction 
which could not very well he said in plain 
English. To talk in the presence of ladies 
about disreputable women by the plain 
English names which belong to them is not 
considered to display a very delicate mind, 
but anybody may talk about the demi-monde 
without fearing either a blush or a frown. 
Yet the idea conveyed is precisely the same 
in the one case as in the other; and inasmuch 
as words can only be indelicate when they 
conv^ey an indelicate idea, we should think 
that the French words ought to be under the 
same disabilities as the English ones. In like 
manner, things sacred are often made strangely 
familiar by the intervention of a French die- 

dispose of those Gallicisms which are becoming too 
prevalent : ' The king assisted at the ceremony :' ' My 
brother has come to pass a few days with me :' instead 
of the English was present and to sjjenciy For the for- 
mer of these there is, I believe, no excuse. But the 
latter usage, "passing time," is surely found in all 
periods of our literature ; and the good English sub- 
stantive ^^ pastime' ' is a voucher for it. 


tionaiy. Persons whose reverence for the 
Deity is properly shown in their English con- 
versation by a becoming unwillingness to 
make a light use of His holy Name, have no 
hesitation in exclaiming Mon Dieu ! in frivol- 
ous conversation. The English name for the 
Father of evil is not considered to be a very 
reputable noun, but its French synonym is to 
be heard in ' the best society.' Far more 
telling illustrations than these could easily be 
found, but we have no inclination to seek 
them. Ideas which no decent person would 
ever think of expressing before a mixed com- 
pany are certainly often spoken and -written 
in French, and in our opinion they do not 
lose a particle of their coarseness by being 
dressed up in foreign clothes. We think, 
therefore, that the interests of morality as well 
as of pure taste concur in calling upon those 
who have influence with the public to set 
their faces against this vicious style." 

379. I need not say that with every word 
of this I heartily concur. It is really quite 
refreshing to read in a newspaper, and a pro- 
vincial one too, so able and honest an exposure 
of one of the worst faults of our daily and 
weekly press. 

Use of ex- ^^ t ^ ^ t > ^ • ^ 

pletives. 3 ^ 9rt. 1 am tempted to add, in this second 


edition, some remarks on the use, in speaking 
and writing, of terms which either seem to be, 
or really are, unneeded by the sense. 

3795. To prohibit the use of expletives 
altogether, would perhaps seem hard. In 
conversation, they seem to help the timid, to 
give time to the unready, to keep up a plear 
sant semblance of familiarity, and, in a word, 
to grease the wheels of talk ; in writing, 
we often want them to redress the balance 
of a halting sentence, when any other way 
of doing so would mar the sense ; or to 
give weight to a term otherwise feeble, or to 
fill out a termination which, without them, 
would be insiijnificant in sound. For these 
reasons, the occasional use of expletives must 
be tolerated ; and that style of speaking or 
writing which should abandon them altogether 
would appear to us harsh and rugged. 

379c. I said, the occasional use. Modera- 
tion ouQ-ht to be observed : and where it is 
not, there is just ground for complaint. The 
man is properly found fault with who inter- 
lards his talk at every turn with " You see," 
and *' You know." Both these terms have 
their use, and if that use be disregarded in 
an indiscriminate profusion of them, they will 
become vapid and meaningless. They serve, 



when used as quasi-expletives, just to keep 
the hearer up to the mark of the knowledge 
vou are imparting to him, and should be used 
only as applying to facts or ideas of which he 
is, or should be, already in possession. 
weiv] 379(/. There are other expletives which 

serve merely to indicate the sequence of the 
course of talk, or the frame of mind in which 
it is continued. A simple question is asked ; 
and your friend's answer begins with *' WelV^ 
Little as the word means, it just does this 
service : it puts the respondent en rapport 
with the questioner : he intends by it to say 
that he does not absolutely repudiate the 
inquiry : that, so far, is well, and that we have 
common ground up to this point. Or the 
first word of the answer is " TF^y, — " a par- 
ticle, of which the meaning is not quite so easy 
to assign ; but I suppose it gives a kind of du- 
bitative aspect to what follows : introduces a 
deliberative and not quite certain reply ; or 
perhaps slightly rallies the querist on some 
obvious element in the reply which his ques- 
tion shows him to have overlooked. "What 
would you do first, if you were to fall down ?" 
"Why get up again, of course." So that 
the use of such prefatory particles is, I con- 
ceive, by no means to be proscribed. It 


should however m the main be confined to 
oral communication or dramatic dialogue, and 
not be admitted in the style of a writer. 

379e. Yet even in written composition '-at all." 
there are certain expressions more or less 
nearly approaching to expletives, the use of 
which cannot well be prohibited. I am 
challenged by one of my correspondents, who 
gives a list of sentences in which I have used 
the expression "a< a^/," to say what difference 
in the meaning of any of them there would 
be if the words were struck out. My answer 
must be, in accordance with the foregoing 
remarks, that the difference in meaning would 
perhaps not be great, but it would be quite 
enough to justify the use of the words, as any 
intelligent reader may at once perceive. 
" Thou hast not delivered thy people at all " 
(Exod. V. 23), is surely very distinct, at all 
events in the feeling: of utter desolation ex- 
pressed, from *'Thou hast not delivered thy 
people." " If thou do at all forget the Lord " 
(Deut. viii. 19), makes the hypothesis much 
more complete than it would be without the 
qualifying words. Or, to take another notable 
example, where the difference would seem to 
be less than in the others, " God is light, and 
in Him is no darkness at alV^ (1 John i. 5), 



who doos not see that bv the words "a^ alV 
every possibility of even tlie least shade of 
darkness existing in Ilim is altogether ex- 
cluded ? So that, when my correspondent 
designates these words as a feeble expletive, 
which adds nothing to the meaning of the 
sentence to which it is attached, I cannot 
agree with his opinion, nor do I think that 
the majority of my readers will. 

379/*. If the origin of the phrase is to be 
sought for, I know not any other than may 
be found in the requirements of speech itself. 
What the Apostle, in the original Greek of 1 
John i. 5, expressed by the strong double 
negation, axoria h auzui obx eaziv obosjiia^ 
we could not in English render by " there is 
not in Him no darkness," because in our 
language the doubling of a negation destroys 
instead of strengthening it : we had recourse 
to another way of expressing total exclusion, 
"there is in Him no darkness at all f ^^ at 
all,''^ {, €., taking the assertion even up to the 
measure of all, — " altorfether^'* — providing for, 
and taking into consideration, every sup- 
posable exception, every qualifying circum- 
stance. The preposition " ai," in this phrase, 
has the same sense as in " at least, ''^ " at hestj''* 
and the like. 


3797. ^^And the Ukey This is also desioj- "and the 

■^^ ^ like." 

nated by my correspondent as a feeble 
expletive, and indeed as an "/m^/sm." No 
doubt it may be so used as to become an 
expletive ; but I am not conscious of having 
so used it : at least, in every one of the sen- 
tences which he quotes, it does full service, as 
shortly comprehending other examples of the 
same kind as those already cited. 

379A. Let me say a word on expletives of Cnmeauing 


another kind : exclamations of surprise, or of tions. 
any other feeling, which taken by themselves 
carry no meaning. It is perhaps impossible 
to avoid them altogether : speech will break 
out when emotion is excited: and ^^You doii't 
say so,'*^ or ^^ Indeed P\ or ^^Dear me/" is 
sometimes heard even from persons best able 
to give an account of what they say. Yet it 
may not be amiss to remember, that idle words 
are seldom quite harmless ; and to impress 
on ourselves, that the fewer we use of such 
expletives the better. This was strikingly 
brought before me during intercourse with 
Italians last winter in Rome. I had observed 
that my Italian friends often in their talk 
uttered some sounds very like our " dear, 
dear!" and at first I thought that my ear 
must have deceived me. But I soon found 


that it was so : and that sometimes the excla- 
' mation even took the form of " dear me /" 

The explanation of course is obvious. The 
ItaHans were exclaiming ^' Dio, Dio f" and the 
fuller form was ^^ Dio mio /" And the re- 
flection arising from it was as obvious : viz.f 
that it thus seems probable that our unmean- 
ing words, " dear, dear /" and " dear me /" 
are, in fact, nothing but a form of taking the 
sacred Name in vain, borrowed from the use 
of a people with whom we were once in much 
closer intercourse than we now are. Thus it 
would seem that the idle word is not quite 
free from blame. 
Concluding 380. But it is time that this little volume 


drew to an end. And if I must conclude it 
with some advice to my readers, it shall be 
that which may be inferred from these exam- 
ples, and from the way in which I have been 
dealing with them. Be simple, be unaffected, 
be honest in your speaking and writing. 
Never use a lonsf word where a short one will 
do. Call a spade a spade, not a well-known 
oblong instrument of manual industry ; let 
home be home, not a residence ; a place a 
place, not a locality ; and so of the rest. 
Where a short word will do, you always lose 
by using a long one. You lose in clearness ; 


you lose in honest expression of your meaning ; 
and, in the estimation of all men who are 
qualified to judge, you lose in reputation for 
ability. The only true way to shine, even in 
this false world, is to be modest and unas- 
suming. Falsehood may be a very thick 
crust, but in the course of time, truth will 
find a place to break through. Elegance of 
language may not be in the power of all of 
us ; but simplicity and straightforwardness 
are. "Write much as you would speak ; speak 
as you think. If with your inferiors, speak 
no coarser than usual ; if with your superiors, 
no finer. Be what you say ; and, within the 
rules of prudence, say what you are. 

381. Avoid all oddity of expression. No 
one ever was a gainer by singularity in words, 
or in pronunciation. The truly wise man 
will so speak, that no one may observe how 
he speaks. A man may show great knowledge 
of chemistry by carrying about bladders of 
strange gases to breathe; but he will enjoy 
better health, and find more time for busi- 
ness, who lives on the common air. When I 
hear a person use a queer expression, or pro- 
nounce a name in reading differently from 
his neighbours, the habit always goes down, 
in my estimate of him, with a minus sir/n 


before it ; stands on the side of deficit, not of 

382. Avoid likewise all sZa/i^ words. There 
is no greater nuisance in society than a talker 
of slang. It is only fit (when innocent, which 
it seldom is) for raw schoolboys, and one-terra 
freshmen, to astonish their sisters with. Talk 
as sensible men talk ; use the easiest words in 
their commonest meaning. Let the sense 
conveyed, not the vehicle in which it is con- 
veyed, be your object of attention. 

383. Once more, avoid in conversation all 
singularity of accuracy. One of the bores of 
society is the talker who is always setting you 
right ; who, when you report from the paper 
that 10,000 men fell in some battle, tells you 
it was 9,9 VO ; who, when you describe your 
walk as two miles out and back, assures you 
it wanted half a furlong of it. Truth does 
not consist in minute accuracy of detail, but 
in conveying a right impression ; and there 
are vague ways of speaking, that are truer 
than strict fact would be. When the Psalmist 
said, ''Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, 
because men keep not thy law," he did not 
state the fact, but he stated a truth deeper 
than fact, and truer. 

384. Talk to please, not yourself, but your 


neighbour to his edification. What a real 
pleasure it is to sit by a cheerful, unas- 
suming, sensible talker; one who gives you 
an even share in the conversation and in his 
attention ; one who leaves on your memory 
his facts and his opinions, not himself who 
uttered them, not the words in which they 
were uttered. 

385. All are not gentlemen by birth ; but 
all may be gentlemen in openness, in modesty 
of language, in attracting no man's attention 
by singularities, and giving no man oflfence by 
forwardness ; for it is this, in matter of speech 
and style, which is the sure mark of good 
taste and good breeding. 

386. These stray notes on spelling and Conclusion, 
speaking have been written more as contri- 
butions to discussion, than as attempts to 
decide in doubtful cases. The decision of 
matters such as those which I have treated 

is not made by any one man or set of men ; 
cannot be brought about by strong writing, 
or vehement assertion : but depends on influ- 
ences wider than any one man's view, and 
taking longer to operate than the life of any 
one generation. It depends on the direction 
and deviations of the currents of a nation's 
thoughts, and the influence exercised on 


words by events beyond man's control Gram- 
marians and rhetoricians may set bounds to 
language : but usage will break over in spite 
of them. And I have ventured to think that 
he may do some sen-ice who, instead of 
standing and protesting where this has been 
ihe case, observes, and points out to others, 
the existing phenomena, and the probable 
account to be given of them. 



Mr. Serjeant Manning has published a very interest- 
ing and learned pamphlet on " the Character and 
Origin of the Possessive Augment in English and its 
Cognate Dialects." Without pronouncing any opin- 
ion as to the theory which the learned Serjeant adopts, 
I may say that the reader will find in his pamphlet a 
very full and instructive discussion of all points 
relating to the question, coupled with an extraordi- 
nary amount of information and erudition. He de- 
scribes himself as " annum agens octogesimum tertium ;" 
a circumstance which does not render the book less 


These paragraphs have provoked a somewhat vehe- 
ment rejoinder in a late number of a nonconformist 
newspaper, in which they are characterised as "a 
sufficiently ill-intentioned, if not very powerful, as- 
sault" on that journal. Two remarks may be perti- 
nent in reply. The first, that no assault on any paper, 
as such, was ever contemplated by me, but as strong 
a protest as I could make against the most objection- 
able principle laid down in the critique, and an endea- 
vour, by exposure of the blunder, to show how much 
the opinion was worth. The blunder is now rather 
amusingly defended thus : " We accidentally substi- 
tuted for the less known Eptenetus what is to the 

284 NOTES. 

classical scholar the more familiar and analogously 
formed name Sophsenetus." Now as regards the clas- 
sical scholar, — Epoenetus, the Tv-riter on cookery, is 
about as often mentioned in Athenaeus, as Sophaene- 
tus in Xenophon : and the matter in question being 
' St. IhuPs lists of salutations, I do not see why the critic 
should have gone to Xenophon for his example, unless 
he had believed that the name occurred in St. Paul 
The second remark shall be an extract from a letter 
"• written by one of the first nonconformist biblical 
scholars of the day: — "I felt rather vexed, that so 
respectable a newspaper should have inserted the in- 
excusably stupid and grossly ignorant remarks of one 
of its correspondents, in reference to your articles on 
the Queen's English." 


There is an especial reason for stating that this sen- 
tence is printed verbatim as delivered in St. George's 
Hall, at Canterbury. 


I have been favoured with some notices from a dis- 
tinguished correspondent, which have caused me to 
alter what was in the first edition the tone of these 
paragraphs as regarded the phrases in question. There 
' seems every reason to believe that kind and sort have 
been regarded bj' our best writers as nouns of number, 
and as such joined with the pronoun in the plural. 
Thus we have in Shakespeare, "King Lear," Act IL, 
Scene 2 : 

" These kind of knaves I know." 

NOTES. 285 

*' Twelfth Night," Act I., Scene 5 : 

" That crow so at these kind of fools." 
" Othello," Act III, Scene 3 : 

" There are a kind of men so loose in soul." 

In Pope : 

" The next objection is, that these sort of authors 
are poor." 

Examples are also stated to occur in Lord Bacon, ^ 
Swift, and Addison. 


It has been suggested that the "o/*" in " the city of 
Canterhurrj,'''' may be territorial: that as it is rendered 
in Latin by " f7e," this " cle " maybe the same that we 
find in '■'■ Henricus de Estriay But I cannot quite 
agree with this view: because though it might seem to 
be justified in the case of a town, it clearly would not 
be in that of a book, or in any other in which the ter- 
ritorial connexion is out of the question. 


I venture to reprint here, as of great interest, Mr. 
Ellis's letter to the Reader, of May 7, 1864: 

'"ITS ME. 

" To the Editor of The Reader. 

" Colney Hatch Park, 30 April, 1864. 
" Sir, — In reference to your remarks on iVs me in 
your notice of Dean Alford's ' Plea for the Queen's 
English,' I consider that the phrase it is 7 is a modern- 
ism, or rather a grammaticism— that is, it was never in 

286 NOTES. 

popular nse, but was introduced solelj on Bome gram- 
matical hypothesis as to having the same case before 
and after the verb is. It does not appear to have been 
consonant with the feelings of Teutonic tribes to use 
the nominative of the personal pronouns as a predicate. 
To them — and therefore to English people — UisI\B 
just as strange as est ego, eo-rl e-y"^. would be to Latin or 
Greek. These last languages require ego sum, ey^o elfii 
(Matt. xiv. 27 ; Mark vi. 50; John vi. 20). The predi- 
cate was here simply omitted. In Gothic we have pre- 
cisely the same construction, ik im (John vi. 20). The 
English TVycliffite translations both give I am. But 
the Anglo-Saxon version, like the modem German, is 
not content with leaving the predicate unexpressed, 
and we find ic hit com ; High German, ich tin cs ; lit- 
erally, / am it ; namely, that which you sec. The Heli- 
and paraphrase is very explicit (Schmeller's ed., p. 
90, line 2), 'Ik hium that barn Godes' ('I am the Son 
of God '). The Welsh and Gaelic try to be emphatic, 
the first saying ni)jfi ychjw (q. d. myself am), and the 
second, i-s' misea ta ann (q. d. it's myself that's living). 
But of course we do not look to these languages as a 
guide to English. The Danish is very peculiar and 
important on account of its intimate relation with 
English. As in English, the dative and accusative 
cases of the personal pronouns now coincide in Da- 
nish, Jcg, mig (I, me) ; Du, dig (thou, thee) ; San, ham 
(he, him). "SVe find the following rule laid do-mi in 
Tobiesen's Ddnische Sprachlchre (Sternhagen's ed., 
1838, p 215) : — ' After the impersonal verbs, det er and 
det bliver (it is), the personal pronouns jcg, du, han are 
not used in the nominative, but in the dative, as der 
er mig der har gjort det (it's ine that did it) ; det er dig, 
som har vceret mcster derfor (it's tUce who was its mas- 
ter) ; det bliver ham, som vi vUle tale med (it's h^m that 
we wish to speak with) ; [where also the construction 
of the relative and preposition is English] ; and simi- 
larly in the plural: det er os,jei, dem (it's us, you, 
them'). This is perfectly explicit, and shows the 

NOTES. 287 

same construction as the English ; but, in the Testa- 
ment, the wish to be uncolloquial has apparently 
forced the translator to depart from the usual custom 
when the words are given to Jesus, but he returns to 
it when they are echoed by Peter (Matt. xiv. 27, 28). 
'^ Jesus — sagde : — det erjej, — men Peder — sagde : Herre^ der- 
som det er dig, ba tijd mig,^ &c. (' Jesus said. It is I ; but 
Peter said. Lord, if it is iJiee, bid me,' &c.) The con- 
clusion seems to be that iVs me is good English, and 
iVs / is a mistaken purism. We haye now, I think, 
come to regard the objective form of the personal 
pronoun as a predicative form, and this will justify 
thaVs him, although the Danes still say ' denjie er han'' 
(' that's he '). "We are therefore in the same condition 
as the French with their 'c'esi moi,'' though we have 
not quite reached their ' lui oi'osait pas'' {'■him didn't 
dare'). " Aijexa>'Der J. Ellis." 

It will be curious if, after all, it should be proved 
that our much-abused colloquial phrase is the really . 
good English, and its rival " a mistaken purism." 


A friend has directed my attention to the fact that in 
"The New "Whig Guide," printed in 1824, the word 
" talented'''' is noticed as an Irish expression, equiva- 
lent to the English " clever. ^^ 


I u a